The UK plans to ban sales of all diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040, The Guardian reports, as part of a government campaign to improve air quality.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is expected to announce the £3 billion ($3.9 billion) clean air plan on Wednesday. In addition to the diesel and petrol ban, the proposal will include a £255 million fund to help local councils reduce emissions through measures such as retrofitting buses, reprogramming traffic lights, and changing road layouts.
“Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK.”
The UK plan follows a similar announcement in France, which earlier this month unveiled plans to ban all fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2040. Similar bans are under consideration in the Netherlands and Germany, though the EU’s auto regulator has warned that such bans could hamper automakers’ efforts to invest in low-emissions vehicles.
“Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible,” a UK government spokesman tells The Guardian. A 2016 report found that indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible for at least 40,000 deaths in the UK each year.
The UK plan also includes a £1 billion fund for investing in low-emissions cars, of which nearly £100 million will go toward developing the country’s charging infrastructure. David Bailey, an automotive expert at Aston University, tells The Guardian that the plan “may accelerate a transition to electric cars,” but environmental groups say it doesn’t go far enough.
“The high court was clear that the government must bring down toxic air pollution in the UK in the shortest possible time,” Greenpeace campaigner Areeba Hamid tells The Guardian, referring to a 2016 ruling that found the government’s previous proposals to be illegal. “This plan is still miles away from that.”