UK PM Rishi Sunak delays ICE car ban by five years to 2035, calls it a ‘fairer path’ to trimming emissions

Policy & Regulation

The UK has set the most ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels

Source: Getty/deepblue4you

UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has moved back the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars in the country by five years to 2035, the UK government announced September 20.

“This means some measures that were planned are no longer needed to fulfil them,” the government said in a note, adding that the UK will remain the country with the most ambitious, stringent decarbonization targets in the world even after these changes are made.

Notably, the delay in the earlier planned ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars have come at a time when the UK, along with Europe, is witnessing a stagnating economy, general price rise and energy insecurity with low reliance on renewable energy, among other concerns.

Sunak views moving back the earlier target to switch over to electric vehicles as a "fairer path" to establish a balance between the rising costs and trimming down the emissions.

“The Prime Minister vows to take forward a pragmatic, proportionate and realistic path to reach net zero by 2050, reducing costs on British families while still meeting international commitments. The UK has set the most ambitious target to reduce carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels — and is the only major economy to have set a target of 77% for 2035,” the government note said.

Prime Minister Sunak said, “This country is proud to be a world leader in reaching Net Zero by 2050. But we simply won’t achieve it unless we change. We’ll now have a more pragmatic, proportionate, and realistic approach that eases the burdens on families. All while doubling down on the new green industries of the future. In a democracy, that’s the only realistic path to Net Zero. We are going to change the way our politics works. We are going to make different decisions. We will not take the easy way out. There will be resistance — and we will meet it. Because I am determined to change our country and build a better future for our children. Nothing less is acceptable.”

Significance: According to the UK government, the move follows progress over the past decades to cut emissions faster than any other Group of Seven (G7) country, with the UK having already slashed emissions by 48%, compared with 41% in Germany and 23% in France. Meanwhile, there has been no change in the reduction of emissions in the US, it added.

Under its revised plans, the UK government will:

a) Move back the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years, so all sales of new cars from 2035 will be zero emission. This will enable families to wait to take advantage of falling prices over the coming decade if they wish to.

b) Delay the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026. Many of these homes are not suitable for heat pumps, so this ensures homeowners are not having to spend about £10,000-£15,000 on upgrading their homes in just three years’ time.

c) Set an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel boilers, including gas, in 2035, so that households who will most struggle to make the switch to heat pumps or other low-carbon alternatives would not have to do so. This is expected to cover about a fifth of homes, including off-gas-grid homes — those that will need expensive retrofitting or a very large electricity connection.

d) Scrap policies to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, but instead continue to encourage households to do so where they can.

e) Raise the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50% to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative such as a heat pump.

f) Rule out policy ideas that would require people to share cars, eat less meat and dairy, be taxed to discourage their flying, or have seven bins to hit recycling targets — removing worrying proposals that would interfere in the way people live their lives.

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