The UK government is expected to announce a proposal today to ban the sale of all cars powered by gasoline and diesel after the year 2040.
The measure is part of a larger clean air initiative to cut down on nitrogen dioxide. Alongside the ultimatum, the government is setting aside £255 million to assist local councils. The fund aims to help with improvements to air quality, particularly around the nation’s roads.
These efforts will reportedly include redesigning intersections and reprogramming stop lights for better traffic flow. The plans include modifications to public transportation, for cleaner emissions on mass transit. A program encouraging drivers to trade in their diesel vehicles for cash is also under consideration.
As it stands, the planned regulations will also prohibit hybrid vehicles. This suggests that government expects electric power will replace internal combustion engines (ICE) for personal mobility in as little as 20 years. This would require the cost of production to fall so that these vehicles are widely affordable. Electric cars will also need a solid infrastructure to support them.
Some experts believe the 2040 deadline leaves more than enough time for the auto industry to catch up. Others, like former opposition leader Ed Miliband, are more concerned it will delay attention to current pollution levels.
Fear that new car petrol/diesel ban in 23 years time is smokescreen for weak measures to tackle 40,000 deaths a year from air pollution now.
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) July 25, 2017
According to the UK’s Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, poor air quality — of which nitrogen dioxide is a significant factor — results in an estimated 40,000 deaths and costs the national economy $2.7 billion every year. Earlier this month, France revealed a similar long-term goal to the UK’s, and also announced it intends to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Prior to the news, some automakers had already begun rising to the challenge. Volvo stated in the beginning of July that it will cease producing standalone ICE cars beginning in 2019. BMW has also recently announced that it will build a fully electric Mini in Oxford.