The United Kingdom is said to be considering a delay in implementing the ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars, with a possible shift to the year 2035. This would extend the initial target set for 2030, which aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2030 target was introduced in November 2020 as part of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s vision for a “green revolution.” However, despite reassurances from senior minister Michael Gove in July, the British government appears to be contemplating a departure from this ambitious timeline.
The 2030 deadline was initially a more aggressive target compared to the European Union’s plan, which aims to mandate zero emissions for new cars sold after 2035, effectively phasing out the sale of new gasoline and diesel models. However, the EU recently adjusted its plan to allow for synthetic fuels.
Current British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to make an announcement in the coming days regarding policy relaxations concerning greenhouse gas emissions. While it is speculated that he may not backtrack on the government’s binding objective, established in law in 2019, to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, concerns are growing that the UK may be losing the determination to enact challenging climate policies under Sunak’s leadership, particularly with an anticipated election next year.
Sunak’s approach to climate policies has faced scrutiny, particularly for emphasizing a “proportionate approach” that aims to balance net-zero aspirations with the need to keep consumer costs in check. He has defended Britain’s carbon emission reduction record, claiming that it is superior to that of other major nations.
While the UK government has not officially commented, a spokesperson emphasized their commitment to the net-zero objectives, ensuring that costs do not burden UK families while remaining resolute in achieving net-zero emissions. However, climate advocates and politicians are raising concerns about the possible lack of resolve in enacting challenging climate policies.
In contrast, the European Union has also faced criticism for its climate policies. In March, Germany formed an alliance with seven other nations to oppose the 2035 ban on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, leading to recent concessions. Additionally, companies like Porsche and Lamborghini are investing in the development of synthetic fuels, which are marketed as carbon neutral and could potentially extend the production of ICE vehicles beyond 2035.
As the debate over climate policies continues, it remains to be seen how the UK government, under Sunak’s leadership, will balance the need for aggressive action against climate change with the potential economic impact and the desires of the electorate.