This week, the UK government has outlined its proposal to ban all diesel and petrol cars, a move which will come into action from 2040. The ban is a bid to tackle the UK’s growing problem of air pollution, but it has been met with varying levels of criticism and acclaim across the board.
As part of the UK’s £3 billion clean air strategy, the ban on diesel and petrol vehicles will mean that sales of new petrol and diesel cars will cease, in order to encourage car buyers to opt for cleaner plug in electric vehicles instead. However, with electric vehicles currently only making up 1% of vehicle sales in the UK, there will need to be a considerable shift in consumer mindsets in order to make the ban a success.
The uptake of electric vehicles has been on the increase, however, as more options for consumers emerge in the market, and advances in green technology means that electric vehicles are much more affordable and readily available to customers.
The biggest threat to public health in the UK has been linked to poor air quality, with the government releasing figures showing that around 40,000 premature deaths per year can be linked to poor air quality. And the ban on diesel and petrol cars and vans is a step towards combatting this. Poor air quality is a result of the carbon emissions (CO2) and the nitrogen oxide (NOx) which is discharged from petrol and diesel exhausts, with the levels of NOx regularly breaching safety standards in many areas across the UK.
In what has been considered a U-Turn by the British government, following its earlier announcement that there will be a diesel scrappage scheme unveiled in order to incentivise diesel motorists (many of whom had followed the government’s previous advice to purchase a ‘cleaner than petrol’ diesel vehicle) to switch out their diesel vehicles, for an electric equivalent. However, there has been no diesel scrappage incentive unveiled with the recent announcement. It is diesel vehicles which emit the highest number of dangerous NOx levels, making them a major contributor to UK air pollution.
As well as the plan to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 - which has been stated by critics as being ‘too late’ - the government has put aside £200 million, which will be used by local authorities in order to lessen air pollution in their local areas. This funding will allow local councils and city regions to implement plans to tackle particular roads in their areas, which are contributing to the high levels of pollution across the country.
With the proposed ban set to take effect from 2040, it is now imperative that the national charging network for plug in hybrid and electric vehicles, is increased. The current number of charging stations across the UK stands at around 4,500, with new stations being added daily.
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