Following in the footsteps of France, Britain will ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by the year 2040. The initiative is part of the government’s plan to tackle air pollution and combat climate change. In addition to investing £1 billion towards promoting low-emissions cars, Britain’s government will devote £100 million to boosting charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. Additional funds will be invested in a green bus fund, cycling and walking infrastructure, as well as low-emission taxis.
The government warned that the move was necessary, as poor air quality has become an epidemic in the UK. Earlier this year, for instance, London reached its annual air pollution limits in just five days. This prompted Greenpeace to declare that diesel vehicles are the single biggest source of air pollution in the city.
Ministers also believe air pollution poses the biggest environmental risk to public health, as ailments which resulted from pollutants being inhaled cost up to £2.7bn in lost productivity in one year, reports The Guardian.
“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,” said a government spokesman. “That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.”
Though the government has been encouraged to introduce charges for cars entering clean air zones, it wants taxes to be a last resort.
The final clean air plan is due by the end of July. To say that its development has been a lengthy process is an understatement. Environmentalists were less than enthused by a previous draft, which lawyers say was much weaker than desired. Because of this, Environment secretary Michael Grove is hoping for a better response when the final document is put out this week.
Though bureaucracy has slowed progress from an environmental perspective, the new initiative is likely to propel positive change in the future.
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