In a heavily trailed speech, the PM changed the goal posts to achieve net zero by announcing that instead of a 2030 deadline for the end of diesel and petrol cars, they will continue to be on sale until 2035 and even then still be available second hand.
For the emergency services this is likely to come as some relief as the market for electric fire appliances and high performance police cars is still developing and the extra five years will give manufacturers time to innovate and learn from the early adopters.
The announcement was part of a raft of measures around the green agenda and was met with consternation by the opposition who saw it as watering down climate commitments. The PM said that ‘we must reduce our emissions’ and saw ‘huge opportunities in green industry’ but he did not want to ‘impose such significant costs on working people.’
He said he was confident, ‘that we can adopt a more pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to meeting net zero’. He expects that by 2030 – the date of the original ban – ‘the vast majority of cars sold will be electric’ but said that by extending the deadline it would give more time to prepare. He included the need for a nationwide charging infrastructure as part of those preparations.
The Labour Party said it would return to the 2030 deadline if it wins the next general election. Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Steve Reed MP said, “We would because that is what industry has been geared up for, that’s what we have to do if we want to meet our net zero targets and if we want to lower the costs of driving.”