Echoing a similar move from France, the UK plans to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, as part of the government's clean air plan to counter the increasingly harmful impact that poor-quality air has on people’s health. In one recent year, it cost the country up to £2.7 billion in lost productivity, according to some ministers. In addition, a 2016 report found that air pollution is responsible for at least 40,000 deaths in the UK each year.
A government spokesperson told the Guardian:
“Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible. That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3 billion program to clean up dirty air around our roads.”
The plan includes a £255 million fund for local councils, which will be used for reducing emissions through measures such as retrofitting buses, reprogramming traffic lights and altering road layouts. In addition, around $1 billion will be used to invest in ultra-low emissions vehicles like plug-in hybrid or fully electric cars, and the supporting charging infrastructure that is needed.
David Bailey, an automotive expert at Aston University, believes the plan will accelerate a transition to electric cars but some environmental groups like Greenpeace claim that it does not go far enough. Besides government actions from various countries, some companies have already begun to transition to electric vehicles, with Volvo recently announcing that every car the company sells from 2019 onwards will have an electric motor.