British prime minister Boris Johnson announced that a ban in the UK on selling diesel and petrol cars would be brought forward from 2040 to 2035 at a launch event for the November UN climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow. The new ban now includes hybrid and plug-in vehicles.

The British government’s decision was in response to experts who said 2040 is too late for the ban if the UK wants to achieve its target of becoming net zero by 2050.

Consumers will only be able to buy electric or hydrogen cars and vans. About one-third of UK emissions are created by transport.

The BBC reports:

The Committee on Climate Change, which advises government, said if other countries followed the UK, there was a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended temperature rise of 1.5C by 2100. This is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change.

However, banning new petrol, diesel, and hybrid cars won’t be enough on its own.

The government will also need to tackle the emissions coming from energy generation. These are almost as high as from transport and come from things such as industry and people’s homes.

The UK currently has 11,000 EV charging stations and is rapidly working to install more, as we reported earlier today about Northern Powergrid’s new incentive to install EV charging point locations.

However — and this is a big however — the BBC reports:

You will still be able to buy a second-hand petrol or diesel car in 2035 and drive one you currently own.

There could even be a boom in petrol or diesel sales in 2034, as motorists prepare to buy combustion engines for the final time.

‘Year of climate action’

Johnson said 2020 would be a “defining year of climate action” for the planet.

And to state the obvious, the ban is going to have a positive effect on reducing air pollution, which is linked to heart disease and respiratory illnesses.

Climate and environmental activist and documentary filmmaker Sir David Attenborough spoke at the event, and said the government’s action was “encouraging.” You can see his speech below:

Electrek’s Take

This is a great decision, and it always helps to be endorsed by “national treasure” Sir David Attenborough — he’s adored by Brits and non-Brits alike. But there are a lot of issues to iron out in the meantime to prepare and transition.

Friends of the Earth’s Mike Childs said:

A new 2035 target will still leave the UK in the slow lane of the electric car revolution and meantime allow more greenhouse gases to spew into the atmosphere.

Childs is right, but this is a positive move that is going to take a lot of action — which is vital — and one that other countries will hopefully soon follow. The UK was right to move the deadline forward.

What happens to all the old ICE cars? A scrapping plan needs to be implemented that is eco-friendly and efficient. (London has announced a £25 million scrapping scheme.) Further, there will need to be a major ramping-up of charging point installations, and quickly.

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