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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced the Government could bring forward the 2040 petrol and diesel car sale ban.

“We’ve already committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. If we’re to become the world-leader in green technology, we must always be looking to expand our ambitions,” he said the Conservatives’ annual conference in Manchester. “I’d therefore like to see government look again at the 2040 target, and thoroughly explore the case for bringing this date forward.”

He noted that the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change “has said 2035 is a date for which we should aim”, continuing: “We will need to test the arguments and work in partnership with industry to examine how to proceed.”

Exhaust Pollution

The 2040 deadline was established by Shapps’ predecessor, Chris Grayling, last year as part of the Government’s Road to Zero campaign, however, environmental groups have said on a number of occasions that 2040 is too late.

If the target is moved forward to 2035 there will be disparity across the UK as Scotland has pledged to end the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 and the Government north of the border has also announced plans for public-sector fleets to go all-electric by 2025.

Responding to Shapps’  announcement, Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers, said the Government must better support carmakers to move towards low and zero-emission vehicles: “The industry is committed to zero emission transport for all, investing heavily in the technologies to get us there. This is about market transformation, however, and despite growing choice, low and zero emission vehicles still only make up a fraction of the market underscoring the huge challenge of fast-tracking a shift to zero emission transport,” he said. “Ambition must be matched by measures that support industry allowing manufacturers time to invest, innovate and sell competitively. This includes long-term government commitment to incentives and investment in infrastructure to accelerate the uptake of these new technologies.”