In an interview with The Independent on Sunday, Professor David King cited the example of the Italian industrial region of Lombardy which is to ban the sale of fossil fuel powered cars from the beginning of 2005. A similar fixed target in the UK would force car manufacturers and oil companies to develop ‘green’ cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells and electricity. However, he refused to state which year a ban should be implemented.

“This is a hugely significant statement from someone at the centre of Government,” Tony Juniper, director designate of Friends of the Earth, told the newspaper. “Until now, the Government has failed to recognise that, logically, we must phase out fossil fuels.”

Road transport is responsible for about 25% of Britain’s annual carbon dioxide emissions of roughly 152 million tonnes, and is the only major sector in the UK which is increasing its CO2 emissions.

With regard to last week’s report from the Government’s Policy and Innovation Unit on the future of energy in the UK (see related story), Professor King stated that it failed to highlight the scale of the climate change crisis “as clearly as I would have liked to see it”.

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