UK backtracks on petrol-car ban

The measure was poorly thought-out and would have been a challenge for Britons, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said

© Getty Images / David Lees

The UK is to delay its planned ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel cars from 2030 until 2035, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced in a speech on Wednesday.

Sunak lambasted his predecessors for focusing on “grabbing headlines” with their ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions in such a short term, saying that their measures were badly thought-out and haven’t ever been properly debated. The initial plan, designed to lower carbon emissions, envisaged prohibiting new combustion-engine cars that run on fossil fuels from being sold in the UK starting from 2030.

We’re going to ease the transition to electric vehicles. You’ll still be able to buy petrol and diesel cars and vans until 2035. Even after that, you’ll still be able to buy and sell them second-hand,” the prime minister stated.

Britons have to be sure that they can afford selling their old petrol cars to buy new electric vehicles, he explained. For now, public opinion on the matter is doubtful, he noted, with people already suffering from the cost-of-living crisis and high energy bills, unsure whether they can bear additional costs.

At least for now, it should be you, the consumer, that makes that choice – not the government forcing you to do it,” Sunak stated, adding that his government will nonetheless continue to work toward reaching “net zero” emissions by 2050, albeit in a “more pragmatic, more proportionate, more realistic way.”

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman welcomed Sunak’s decision, stating, “we’re not going to save the country by bankrupting the British people.

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However, not everyone applauded Sunak’s turnabout. The Labour Party announced that they would reverse his decision and return the ban to 2030 if elected next year. UK automakers also appeared unhappy, having already spent billions on adjusting production lines towards electric cars.

Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency. A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three,” Lisa Brankin, the chair of Ford UK, said, commenting on the announcement. Stellantis and BMW both said they remain committed to switching production to electric cars by 2030.

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