The 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be delayed until 2035.
Rishi Sunak made the announcement in a speech last Wednesday (20 September) as he shared plans for exemptions and delays on green policies.
The Prime Minister has insisted he is “absolutely not slowing down” efforts to combat climate change and believes the target for the UK to reach net zero emissions by 2050 is still possible.
The previous ban included a phased approach where the sale of all new hybrid cars and vans would be banned from 2035. Although there is no confirmed timeline for this phase, 2040 is presumably the target date.
The government has also said that petrol and diesel cars will still be available to buy on the second-hand market.
The Prime Minister said: “People are already choosing electric vehicles to such an extent that we’re registering a new one every 60 seconds.
“But I also think that at least for now, it should be you the consumer that makes that choice, not government forcing you to do it.”
The Government has said it cannot impose “unacceptable costs” linked to reducing emissions on British families.
The Prime Minister believes moving too fast on green policies would “risk losing the consent of the British people”. Sunak’s comments have prompted criticism from both the opposition and from within his own party.
Shadow environment secretary Steve Reed has pointed out that by delaying the ban, the UK would miss it’s 2050 target. Net zero being the point at which the country is no longer adding to the overall amount of harmful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Reed said Sunak has: “sold out the biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century” for Britian to “lead the world in transition to well-paid secured new jobs of the green economy”.
This delay has also prompted criticism from the wider public. RAC head of policy Simon Williams says: “This announcement risks slowing down both the momentum the motor industry has built up in switiching to electric powertrains and ultimately the uptake of electric vehicles that is so important when it comes to decarbonising road transport in the UK”.
If you’d like to know more, check out our blog on the UK’s path to becoming net zero.