PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES
Boris Johnson has unveiled a ten-point, £12billion plan for the environment which will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.
The plan includes further investment in nuclear power, wind energy, domestic heating, and cutting-edge technology such as carbon capture and storage. The petrol and diesel ban is to start in nine years – a decade earlier than originally planned. The PM has outlined his plan for the “Green Industrial Revolution,” which is committed to planting 30,000 hectares of new forests every year. He also hopes the new green tech industries will support 250,000 British jobs while turbo-charging the nation’s march towards becoming carbon neutral by 2050. With electric vehicles costing far more than conventional models, however, the PM states that industry prices will have to drop for the plan to not drastically negatively impact the lower class.
A leading economist warned the switch would put £40billion in road taxes at risk because electric vehicles are exempt. ‘Some form of road pricing will be needed,’ said Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. ‘The Government needs to get started now – it will be very hard to introduce after people have got used to no tax.’ Nicholas Lyes of the RAC warned that many motorists would be nervous about the switch to electric cars, given their limited driving range and charging problems. Urging ministers to revive discount schemes for buyers, he said the biggest barrier by far was the high upfront cost.
The push for electric vehicles will come with a £1.3billion investment in charging points in homes, streets and trunk roads. The UK has a legal target to cut greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050, requiring huge cuts to emissions and any remaining pollution from sectors such as aviation needs to be ‘offset’ by measures such as planting trees. There is also pressure to set out ambitious action to tackle the climate crisis, due to Britain hosting the United Nations environment summit – which was delayed by the pandemic – now taking place in Glasgow in November 2021.
The plan brings the ban on new conventional cars and vans forward by a decade, from a planned date of 2040. The sale of some hybrid vehicles will be allowed until 2035. Government sources stressed that motorists would still be able to drive older conventional cars after this point, although the motor industry has raised concerns about the potential impact on the second hand vehicle market. Nearly £500million will be spent in the next four years on the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, helping to boost manufacturing bases, including in the Midlands and North East. The Government will also launch a consultation on the phasing-out of new diesel HGVs to clean up freight transport, though no date has been set (AKMI).
Among the moves announced were:
Banning new sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Investment in battery technology and the roll-out of electric car charging points.
Installing thousands of offshore turbines to produce enough energy to power every home by 2030.
Working with industry to generate five gigawatts of the low carbon fuel by 2030.
Investing in new technology to develop mini- reactors. Decision still pending on major new power stations like Sizewell, in Suffolk.
Cycling and walking: £5 billion investment in low carbon transport, with cycle lanes to benefit from a share of £2 billion fund.
Supporting the development of the world’s first commercial zero carbon plane.
HOMES AND BUILDINGS:
Making homes, schools and hospitals greener and warmer, with improved insulation and heat pumps phased in to replace conventional boilers.
Becoming a world-leader in technology to capture and store harmful emissions.
Protecting and restoring the natural environment, including planting 75,000 acres of trees every year.
INNOVATION & FINANCE:
Developing new green technology and making the City the global centre of green finance.
Mr Johnson, speaking about the deal, said: “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. My Ten Point Plan will create, support, and protect hundreds of thousands of green jobs, whilst making strides towards net zero by 2050. Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”
Under the green plans, Johnson wants to prioritise wind and nuclear power, while forming ‘carbon capture’ sites in the North East. They will also trial using hydrogen as a fuel to heat homes, starting with a “hydrogen neighbourhood” in 2023 – eventually using the clean fuel to power a town by the end of the decade (DailyMail).
Business groups welcomed the announcement. The AA’s Edmund King said the cull of petrol cars was “incredibly ambitious” but “welcome.” The Alliance of British Drivers, however, condemned the plan as flying in the face of the free market, saying the charging infrastructure was not even ready. Other experts questioned whether enough electric vehicles will be in production to meet demand by 2030, suggesting the costs will be so high that only the ‘wealthy’ will be able to drive. Meanwhile, Labour accused Mr Johnson of exaggerating the size of the much-trumpeted green plan, claiming that only £4billion of the funding package was actually new.
Nigel Humphries of the Alliance of British Drivers told MailOnline: ‘If you’ve got to the point that you need to ban something then that shows you’ve got no confidence in the alternative. There’s something Stalinist about it. ‘Where’s the free market in all of this that the so-called Conservative Party is meant to be protecting? It’s also far, far too early and does not give the motor industry much time to prepare. ‘There’s also something serious that needs to be done with the charging infrastructure if everybody is going to be able to use one.’
Professor Peter Wells, Director of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff University, told MailOnline: ‘There are few things that might get in the way of this. ‘I’m not sure the UK industry – including companies like Jaguar Land Rover – will be ready to deliver enough electric vehicles by that point. ‘The chief bottleneck so far is on battery supply. That is being solved across Europe but we’re a bit behind the pace here in the UK. ‘There’s also a concern on the retail side too. Repairing and maintaining these cars requires new skills and I’m not sure there are enough people trained up. ‘It’s a nice vision but I think there has to be concern about whether it can be realisable by the industry’ (MSN).
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE