LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2030, five years earlier than previously planned, as part of what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is casting as a “green revolution” to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.
Johnson, who is grappling with Europe’s most deadly COVID-19 crisis, Brexit trade negotiations and the departure of his most senior adviser, wants to underscore his green credentials as part of what he hopes will be a reset for his government.
“Now is the time to plan for a green recovery with high-skilled jobs that give people the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to make the country cleaner, greener and more beautiful,” Johnson said in a column published in the Financial Times on Tuesday.
Britain last year became the first G7 country to set in law a net zero emission target by 2050, which will require wholesale changes in the way Britons travel, use energy and eat.
In total the plan would mobilise 12 billion pounds ($16 billion) of government money, with as much as three times that amount coming from the private sector, and create and support 250,000 highly skilled green jobs by 2030, Johnson said.
The new date for a ban on new petrol and diesel cars is five years earlier than the 2035 pledge made by Johnson in February.
The plan offers 582 million pounds in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles to make them cheaper to buy, which was welcomed by auto industry group SMMT.
“Success will depend on reassuring consumers that they can afford these new technologies,” SMMT said in a statement, adding the new deadline posed an “immense challenge” to the sector.
Johnson’s plan was broadly welcomed by industry.
“It gives a springboard to the huge opportunities for UK-wide investment and green jobs that a true low-carbon economy can bring,” said Josh Hardie, acting director at the Confederation of British Industry.
Under the plan, the sale of hybrid cars and vans will be banned from 2035.
An extra 200 million pounds would create industrial clusters mustering technology to capture, store and use carbon dioxide emissions by the mid-2020s. Another two hubs are projected by 2030, taking the total investment in the technology to 1 billion pounds.
This funding is likely to benefit sites in northern England, such as the Humber region and Teesside, and Port Talbot in south Wales, where industrial carbon capture projects are being developed at sites such as steel works.
Johnson, who has promised to increase Britain’s offshore wind power to 40 gigawatts by 2030 from around 10 GW now, pledged up to 500 million pounds for projects trailing the use of hydrogen including for home heating and cooking.
The government also pledged 525 million pounds to develop large- and small-scale nuclear plants.
Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Edmund Blair and Gareth Jones