No More New Gas and Diesel Cars From 2040, U.K. Vows

The announcement comes just a few weeks after France made a similar pledge.
The U.K. will ban the sale of new gas and diesel-powered cars from 2040, a minister said Wednesday. 
The U.K. will ban the sale of new gas and diesel-powered cars from 2040, a minister said Wednesday. 

Following its neighbors across the English Channel, the United Kingdom has announced plans to ban the sale of new gas and diesel-powered cars in the nation from 2040.

French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled a similar plan earlier this month, as part of the country’s efforts to meet its targets under the Paris climate agreement. Now, U.K. Environment Minister Michael Gove has said that the government aims to have only zero-emission cars and vans on the road by 2050.

Gove told BBC Radio Wednesday to achieve that, there should be “no new diesel or petrol vehicles,” starting in 2040. 

As the Guardian notes, the announcement is part of the British government’s new clean air plan ― a strategy aimed at reducing air pollution, specifically the pollutant nitrogen dioxide, which is also considered an indirect greenhouse gas.

The ruling Conservative Party has been under pressure for months to produce a robust plan to tackle the mounting air pollution crisis in the U.K., which a government spokesman called this week the “biggest environmental risk to public health in the U.K.” 

The British High Court ruled in November that the government’s existing plan to tackle the pollution crisis was “illegally poor,” following a lawsuit by the nonprofit ClientEarth. The court said in April that government ministers had until the end of July to release their final policy on the issue. 

The final plan is expected to be unveiled on Wednesday, the Guardian reported. A spokesman told the paper that about $3.9 billion had been earmarked in the plan for spending on air quality improvements.

Environmental campaigners in the U.K. told the BBC this week that the measures in the new plan that they’d seen so far were “promising,” but stressed they’d have to see the full strategy before they could pass judgment.

CLARIFICATION: This article previously stated that nitrogen dioxide is a greenhouse gas. It is not, but it is considered an indirect one because it contributes to the production of tropospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas.