The Tory UK government will bring its ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales forward another five years, acclerating the change from 2035 to 2030.
While Australia’s conservative Coalition government has pegged a transition to electric vehicles as a second tier consideration, and barely mentions them in its Technology Investment Roadmap released on Tuesday, in the UK a transition to clean transport is clearly higher on the agenda.
An official announcement on the new plan is expected in the northern hemisphere autumn, as confirmed by the UK’s minister for clean energy, Kwasi Kwarteng in comments to the Guardian on Monday (UK time).
It is the second time the UK government has brought forward the ban on new petrol and diesel car sales – as it was first destined for 2040. The new target will mean that the UK is a decade ahead of France in terms of a transition to electric vehicles, and in line with Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands.
The new target will mean that the UK is just five years behind Norway, the largest EV market in the world by market share. Norway is also banning hybrid and plug in hybrid cars, so the only new cars available will be pure electric.
The Guardian notes that the UK government was expected to lay out its new 2030 target this week, but this will now be delayed as the UK grapples with rising Covid-19 infections.
The 2030 target to ban new combustion vehicle sales is backed by UK government’s Committee on Climate Change, which according to the Guardian, will release a white paper to guide a legally binding target for the UK to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in autumn.
The fact that the new Tory target mirrors a pre-election target put forward by the UK Labour party is also a sign that in the UK, partisan politics are being put aside in order to tackle climate change.
Shadow climate change minister Matthew Pennycook told the Guardian that the new target is “an ambitious but achievable date” which would “give a new lease of life to the UK car industry, whilst combating climate breakdown and cleaning up the air that dangerously pollutes so many of our towns and cities”.
Concerns that UK electricity grid’s would be unable to cope with a boom in electric vehicle charging are unfounded, Graeme Cooper, director in charge of National Grid’s EV project, told the Guardian.
According to the Guardian, Cooper said that the grid operator was “confident that a faster transition is possible” and that it is “suitably robust” to cope with a rise in electricity demand.
Partisan politics on electric vehicles are also being put aside in New Zealand, where the conservative Nationals party has proposed a plan that would see 60,000 more electric vehicles on NZ roads by 2023, as the country’s federal election approaches.
The Nationals plan would also see exemptions on fringe benefits taxes for road user charges for EV drivers, and would allow EV drivers to use bus and car pool lanes.
The incumbent NZ Labour government led by Jacinda Adern also has a plan to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles.
The Labour plan includes the introduction of vehicle emissions regulations and targets similar to that in play in the European Union, which is already driving take up of electric vehicles as car makers strive to avoid fines if average vehicle emissions are not reduced to 95 grams CO2/km by 2021.
Australia, by contrast, still uses the Euro 5 vehicle emissions standards. Although Euro 6 was introduced to Europe in 2014, the most recent light vehicle emissions standard report on the Australian government’s Climate Change Authority page is also dated 2014, a year after the Coalition came into power.
This adds to the fuel costs (around $600 a year) because the inefficient engines consume more fuel, as well as to the carbon emissions and health impacts from other tailpipe emissions, estimated to cause around 3,000 deaths a year in Australia.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.