In late 2020, the UK government announced plans to completely ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 – previously aimed at 2040. These efforts are a step towards Boris Johnson’s 10-point environmental “green industrial revolution” plan and are part of a global effort to phase out fossil fuels. This plan is approximated at £12 billion and aims to create over a quarter of a million jobs nationwide. Apart from the fossil fuel vehicle phase-out, it also vows to quadruple offshore wind farms (which essentially increases the UK’s wind power capacity to power all households), boost hydrogen production, invest in small and advanced nuclear reactors, and several other efforts to curb the climate crisis.
Problems with Lobbyists
Although the plan may seem like a massively scaled initiative to accelerate the move towards sustainable development, many are not too pleased with the efforts made. Firstly, the car industry has been lobbying the government this month to urge a delay in the implementation of this ban; this is not surprising at all. Major car manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, and McLaren all argued against these bans in written submissions, and BMW stated that there is “no scientific evidence to support such ambitious market uptake in the UK” for the previous 2040 ban, let alone this new and earlier date. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) is a UK lobby group, which aims to support and promote the interests of the automotive industry. SMMT calculated that this ban would cause a drop in car sales from £2.3m in 2025 to only about 800,000. Furthermore, SMMT’s chief executive is also worried that 9 years is not enough time to convince the public to switch to the greener electric vehicles and believes that many drivers would find it much more convenient and cost-efficient to stick to their regular way of life. However, moving this ban date to 10 years earlier would make the UK the fastest G7 country to do so. Although it would reduce the UK’s emissions significantly earlier than initially planned, it also severely impacts the marginal costs and research & development plans of several car manufacturing firms. It also puts them in a difficult position in terms of developing their supply of different vehicles and being able to adapt to changing market conditions and demand.
Apart from the car industry, other parties are dissatisfied with the announcement of this plan – including the Labour party. They claim that this plan is deeply disappointing in ambition, and say that it won’t effectively mitigate the current environmental concerns or the unemployment caused by COVID-19. Labour is striving for a green stimulus package, and is referring to Johnson’s 10-point plan as a “pale imitation” of what the country really needs.
Despite the divergent views on this new announcement, it is undoubtedly a step towards a greener future. This ban still works to catalyse the country’s plans to net-zero emissions and the phase-out of fossil fuels. What will actually provide assurance, however, is proper evidence to the public that Downing street and the UK government will pledge and commit to turning these ambitions into a transformative, yet urgently needed reality to curb the harrowing effects of climate change and also provide the UK with the jobs they need.