(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 4th Feb 2020) London, Uk – –
The car industry said the plans were “extremely concerning” and accused the government of setting a “date without a plan”.
Boris Johnson has been accused by the car industry of “moving the goalposts” as he confirmed plans to phase out new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the plan to bring forward the change from 2040 was “extremely concerning” and accused the PM of setting a “date without a plan”.
It came as efforts to step up the battle against climate change took centre stage, with aviation industry firms publicly pledging to cut the sector's emissions to net zero by 2050.
Yet that promise, backed by airlines including British Airways and easyJet and lauded by the government, was also under fire – described as a “flight of fancy” by Greenpeace.
The pledge on cars came as Boris Johnson launched a climate change summit, COP 26, to be held in Glasgow in November.
While bringing forward the ban on selling new petrol and diesel vehicles, it includes hybrid models for the first time, meaning that in 15 years the only new option for UK motorists will be electric cars.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “It's extremely concerning that government has seemingly moved the goalposts for consumers and industry on such a critical issue.”
Mr Hawes insisted that car makers were “fully invested in a zero emissions future” with dozens of plug-in models on the market already and more to come this year.
“However, with current demand for this still expensive technology still just a fraction of sales, it's clear that accelerating an already very challenging ambition will take more than industry investment,” he added.
Mr Hawes said the UK's charging network was “woefully inadequate”, adding that there was still no clarity on whether discounts currently available to electric car buyers would be extended beyond this spring.
The new plans come at a time when the car industry is already struggling, with new vehicle sales in 2019 falling to their lowest level for six years, and major manufacturers worried about whether their businesses will be sustainable under a “hard” Brexit arrangement.
Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden are ahead of the UK's timetable, with their petrol and diesel bans coming into force in 2030.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps had already signalled last September that the government wanted to bring forward the date from 2040.
But Mr Hawes said: “A date without a plan will merely destroy value today.”
He called for the government to set out how it planned to achieve its aims while safeguarding jobs and industry, allowing lower income groups to benefit, and not undermining hybrid technology that was helping to deliver air quality and climate change goals.
On the other side of the debate, Friends of the Earth called for the ban to be brought forward even earlier, to 2030, and for the government also to pull support for “more climate-wrecking roads and runways”.
The PM's plans to boost his green credentials have been helped by the backing of Sir David Attenborogh, the veteran naturalist and TV documentary maker.
Speaking ahead of the climate change summit launch, Mr Johnson said: “There can be no greater responsibility than protecting our planet, and no mission that a global Britain is prouder to serve.
“2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming – it will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all.”
However Mr Johnson's leadership on climate change was called into question by Claire O'Neill, who was sacked by the prime minister last week from her role running the summit.
She said that while the PM was pledging to put the issue among the “Premier League” of priorities, it was “currently somewhere around the middle of League One”.
It came as air industry group Sustainable Aviation – a coalition of airlines, aeroplane makers and airport operators – announced its plans to tackle emissions.Sky pledges to go net zero carbon by 2030The company is attempting to eradicate carbon emissions from its businesses.
The aviation pledge relies on more efficient aircraft and more sustainable fuels as well as the controversial use of offsetting – which relies on things like planting trees to balance out the emissions by vehicles.
The industry insists that it can still grow passenger numbers by 70% by 2050 while still cutting net emissions from 30 million tonnes of CO2 per year today to zero.
But Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven said carbon offsetting – a key part of the pledge – was “simply an excuse to carry on with business as usual” and the only way for the aviation industry to cut emissions was by cutting demand.
By John-Paul Ford Rojas