City mayors across the UK are joining forces to encourage the introduction of a ban on pure petrol and diesel cars from 2030 in a bid to cut emissions produced by private transport.
Leaders from cities including Bradford, Bristol, Cardiff, London and Oxford, who represent a combined 20 million residents, will put their case to environment secretary Michael Gove tomorrow at a national air quality summit.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is among those calling for the Government’s proposed 2040 ban on the sale of combustion-engined cars to be moved forward by a decade.
“Air pollution is not an isolated problem, it’s a national health crisis,” Khan said. “Our country’s filthy air is shortening lives, damaging lungs and severely impacting on the NHS.”
Gove recently introduced a new clean air strategy that outlined plans to reduce particulates from vehicle brakes and tyres. However, the strategy refrained from tightening plans introduced in 2017 that included the 2040 petrol and diesel car ban, which excludes hybrids.
“Michael Gove has made a good start as environment secretary, but we need the Government to match our ambition and help us urgently drive forward these improvements,” Khan continued. “We simply cannot afford to delay.”
West Midlands mayor Andy Street emphasised that the UK’s air quality issue is "a public health crisis that needs urgent action". He said that enforcing more stringent emissions-fighting policies is “also an industrial opportunity — not least for the West Midlands, where we have built cars, trucks and taxis for generations”.
Street added: "We need to move to making cleaner vehicles now. It is an essential part of the national industrial strategy."
Last week, a Government minister suggested that a complete ban of petrol and diesel cars would not necessarily be the most effective method to fight emissions in the UK.
Richard Harrington, the minister for business, energy and industry, said at a cross-party Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee meeting that petrol and diesel models may “potentially” be allowed for sale after the proposed deadline because it is not possible to predict what sort of technology will be around in 2040.
The comments echoed those of business secretary Greg Clark, who said earlier this year at the FT Future of the Car Summit: “There is a place for diesel. City centres are a flashpoint. Driving diesel a long distance is a different question."