U.K. Lawmakers Call for Ban on Polluting Cars in 14 Years

(Bloomberg) -- Britain should ban gasoline and diesel fueled cars by 2032 to speed up a shift toward zero-emissions vehicles, a panel of lawmakers from the main parties in Parliament said.

The Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee in the House of Commons said the government should implement the ban by 2032, eight years earlier than the current target, and that failing to do so would undermine promises to reduce air pollution by over two thirds by 2050.

The recommendations indicate pressure on Prime Minister Theresa May to step up efforts on protecting the environment. While the government has said it wants to be a world leader in rolling out electric cars, the panel said that ambition will require more support for companies to deploy the charging infrastructure necessary to spur a shift away from fossil fuels in transportation.

“For all the rhetoric of the U.K. becoming a world leader in EVs, the reality is that the government’s deeds do not match the ambitions of their words,” said Rachel Reeves, chair of the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee. “The U.K. government’s targets on zero-emissions vehicles are unambitious and vague, giving little clarity or incentive to industry or the consumer to invest in electric cars.”

The report released by the panel on Friday titled “Electric vehicles: driving the transition” called on government to increase investment and ease consumers’ concerns over switching to a zero emission vehicle.

U.K. Lawmakers Call for Ban on Polluting Cars in 14 Years

In July 2017, the U.K. pledged to ban the sales of traditional combustion engine vehicles by 2040. It was part of a push to invest over 800 million pounds ($1 billion) in driverless and zero-emission technology. That included 246 million pounds of investment in battery technology research.

At least 17 million zero-emission vehicles may be on British streets by 2040, a separate report release on Thursday showed. That would require 3 million charging points and billions of dollars of investment, said Aurora Energy Research Ltd. Bloomberg NEF estimates that new EV car sales could grow to 60 million a year by 2040.

Industry boost

“Government support for more publicly accessible rapid charging now will tackle a key barrier to EVs,” said Graeme Cooper, National Grid Plc’s project director of EVs. “Providing not only a boost to the U.K. car industry whilst ensuring we become a world leader in this growing market but also delivering cleaner air and lower carbon emissions.”

The U.K. has reduced its emissions by 40 percent since 1990, largely because of a commitment to stop burning coal by 2025.

The recommendations to bring forward the commitments to move away from selling combustion engine vehicles was broadly welcomed by industry groups and environmentalists however the report comes days after the U.K. government announced it was cutting grants for plug-in electric vehicles by 1,000 pounds.

“We would caution against bringing forward targets to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles along with dismissing hybrids from the mix," Tony Burke, general secretary of Unite the Union. The existing targets are "damaging to the industry" already.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.