In the footsteps of its neighbour across the English Channel, UK too has decided to ban all new petrol and diesel car sales from 2040, as a measure to alleviate air pollution. Amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide in the air poses a serious threat to public health, the government has planned to allocate £255 million for the improvement of air quality. It is also considering banning all older diesel vehicles but the decision does not appear imminent.
The move comes as part of the incumbent government’s plan to table a ‘clean air strategy’, mandated by the court. Earlier in the month, French president, Emmanuel Macron, too had declared plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars from 2040. Presently, only four percent of all new cars sold in the UK are plug-in hybrids or full-electrics. An analysis by Chargemaster predicts that the percentage of hybrid and all-electric vehicle sales in UK is likely to increase to 10 percent in 2022.
At the moment, in the UK, poor air quality is believed to cause an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year. A government spokesman said: "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.”
The government is also exploring other avenues to tackle air pollution, such as retrofitting new technology in older vehicles, creating ‘Clear Air Zones’ or CAZs, and introducing more green vehicles in the public transport system. Many environmental activists have suggested that the whole country should follow London’s decision to levy an additional £10 ‘toxic-charge’ every weekday for old, polluting vehicles.