Conservatives hint at plans for earlier petrol and diesel car sale ban

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he would like the Government to "thoroughly explore" the feasibility of bringing its current 2040 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars forward.

The 2040 date is currently not aligned with the recommendations of the Government's own climate advisory body

The 2040 date is currently not aligned with the recommendations of the Government's own climate advisory body

Speaking at the Conservative Party conference to discuss the Tories’ new net-zero manifesto, Shapps said he will acknowledge the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) advice on meeting net-zero in the transport sector by 2050.

The Committee states in its recommendations that the sale of all new, conventionally powered petrol and diesel passenger cars should be brought forward to 2035, if the UK is to decarbonise completely by mid-century.

The Government has, to date, disputed this recommendation. Its Road to Zero strategy retains the 2040 date and, in January, Ministers threw out the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee’s request to move the date to 2032. At the time, the Government claimed a 2040 deadline was “sufficient” for the UK to meet its long-standing 2050 target of making “almost every car” in the nation zero-emission.

But, in light of the Government’s decision to legislate for a net-zero target in line with the CCC’s timeframe, Shapps has now said he would like the Government to examine the 2040 target and “thoroughly explore” the case for moving it forward.

“Just as we rejuvenated the automotive sector in the 1980s, we’re going to work with our pioneering car sector to help them sell the next generation of electric cars around the world, providing high-skilled jobs, utilising British know-how and ending that dependence on fossil fuels once and for all,” Shapps added, alluding to the Conservative Party’s new net-zero manifesto, which sets aside £1bn for electric vehicle (EV) manufacturing.

Deadline day

With transport being the UK’s highest emitting sector, and with the nation currently off course to meet its fourth and fifth carbon budgets, the BEIS Committee is one of several bodies to have called for the 2040 date to be moved.

Last year, the German Aerospace Centre warned European ministers that the date will have to be moved to 2030 if the auto sector is to play its part in holding global warming to the Paris agreement's 1.5C goal.

Similarly, think tank The Green Alliance has argued that an earlier phase-out for new diesel and petrol cars would affect the looming gap in the UK’s legally binding 2030 climate target. A 2030 deadline would cut the gap by 85%, or 98 million tonnes of CO2e, it claims.

Sarah George



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