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The British government has announced its intention to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel commercial vehicles starting from 2035.

Under the new plans, vehicles weighing between 3.5 and 26 tonnes will be banned from 2035 while vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes will get an extra five years.

Of course, these plans are subject to consultation but the government has not ruled out bringing in the ban earlier “if a faster transition seems feasible.”

“The Transport decarbonisation plan will help to provide logistics businesses with confidence and clarity on the steps they must take on the pathway to net zero,” says Elizabeth de Jong, Director of Policy at Logistics UK. “Consultation on proposed phase out dates for new diesel HGVs should enable business to move forwards with confidence. Rail, shipping and aviation are all essential parts of logistics, so plans to support freight modal shift and develop technologies to reduce emissions across these modes are welcome.”

The government has also published a regulatory framework requiring vehicle manufacturers to improve the fuel efficiency of new cars, vans and HGVs.

This so-called “greenprint” pledges to end the sale of all new, polluting road vehicles by 2040 and, remarkably, net-zero aviation emissions by 2050.

“It’s not about stopping people doing things,” says Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “It’s about doing the same things differently. We will still fly on holiday, but in more efficient aircraft, using sustainable fuel. We will still drive, but increasingly in zero-emission cars.”

The government has also brought forward the date, by three years to 2027, by which all of its vehicles – some 40,000 cars and vans – need to be zero-emission. 

“To ensure the UK meets its climate targets, the government will need to convert its raft of new proposals into measures that rapidly change how people and goods move,” says Greg Archer, UK Director of the Transport & Environment campaign group. “More difficult decisions to reduce vehicle use and flying and reallocate spending towards green transport options will be needed, but this plan signifies a commendable and substantial shift in the right direction.”

However, not everyone is pleased with the new announcement. 

“The ban on internal combustion engine trucks by 2040 is nearly 20 years away, and today’s climate emergency cannot wait,” says Essa Al-Sale, CEO of Volta Trucks. “Trucks account for less than 2% of road vehicles but 22% of CO2 emissions from road transport, and the relative share of truck emissions is certain to increase as emissions from passenger cars are driven downwards by the surge in the sales of electric cars.”

“It’s therefore disappointing that the UK Government hasn’t been as ambitious as the French authorities,” he continued, “who have banned diesel engine trucks from the streets of Paris and other large city centres by the end of 2023.”

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