UK petrol and diesel car ban brought forward to 2030

LONDON — The UK will bring forward a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, Boris Johnson will confirm Wednesday, as part of a “10-point plan” for the country to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The long-awaited document will include further commitments to invest in offshore wind, nuclear energy and carbon capture, as well as hydrogen energy production — with a plan to power the first “hydrogen town” by the end of this decade.

Johnson, who will host the pivotal COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow next year, is expected to position the fight against climate change as a key pillar of the government’s domestic and international agenda next year. Speaking ahead of the plan's publication, the prime minister linked the government’s green ambitions to his election pledge to reduce inequalities between the U.K.’s regions, committing to create 250,000 jobs in a “green industrial revolution.”

"Although this year has taken a very different path to the one we expected, I haven’t lost sight of our ambitious plans to level up across the country,” Johnson said. “My 10-point plan will create, support and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net-zero by 2050."

Some £12 bn of government investment will go into delivering the plan, a figure that the government hopes will be trebled through private-sector investment by 2030.

The ban on new sales of petrol and diesel cars and vans has been brought forward by five years from a previous target date of 2035. Hybrid cars that “can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe” will still be permitted for sale until that date.

The document will set out £1.3 bn in government funding for car-charging points in homes, on public streets and on motorways in England, plus a £582 m pot for grants to incentivize drivers to buy zero- or ultra-low-emissions cars. The document says the transition to electric cars will support jobs in the Midlands and northeast of England, as well as North Wales.

Greenpeace UK’s head of politics Rebecca Newsom called it a “historic turning point on climate action” that could “put the government back on track to meeting its climate commitments,” but said Johnson also remained “fixated” on “speculative solutions” like nuclear and hydrogen.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit think tank’s head of analysis Jonathan Marshall said the petrol and diesel ban would “make huge ripples overseas” while “bolstering" the UK's standing ahead of COP26.

Other measures outlined in the 10-point plan include further funding to make homes and public-sector buildings more energy-efficient, funding for research into low-emission planes and ships, and promotion of the City of London as “the global center of green finance.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said the accelerated phase-out would be an “immense challenge” but that the automotive sector would “work with government on the detail of this plan.”