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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article12 July 20181 min read

Criticism of UK low emission vehicle plans

The UK Department for Transport has issued the Road to Zero strategy which plans to bans conventional car sales by 2040 (see separate Eltis article for more detail on this). The strategy acknowledges that ‘road transport is one of the biggest contributors to poor air quality in some of the UK’s towns and cities’.

In line with the UK’s industrial strategy, the Road to Zero presents an industry and consumer-led transition. Accordingly, sales of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans should be put to an end by 2040, while in 2050, all cars and vans should be zero emission vehicles. As regards cities, the report promises support for the development of the public charging points and collaboration with local areas through the Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The report has been criticised, including by Sustrans, a charity that supports walking and cycling. In a statement, Rachel White, Senior Policy and Political Advisor at Sustrans said that the UK Government ‘missed an opportunity to make active travel more accessible’ by not including support e-bikes. She also referred to the fact that 45% of particulate matter comes from tyre and brake wear. ‘A switch to electric vehicles fails to address this. We need fewer, not just cleaner vehicles on our roads.’

The UK Committee on Climate Change, an independent advisory body, said the strategy was not the ambitious strategy that could tackle emissions from transport. Chairman of the committee Lord Deben criticised the lack of clarity over the stated aim to end the sale of conventional cars and vans in 2040. He also recommended to ramp up ambitions on the number of electric vehicles on our roads by 2030 and charging infrastructure in homes and streets.


Publication date
12 July 2018
  • Clean and energy-efficient vehicles
  • United Kingdom