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Environment

The UK Just Brought the Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars Forward By 5 Years

Why Global Citizens Should Care 
Global Goal 13 calls for urgent climate action to combat the climate crisis. The UN describes climate change as a “real and undeniable threat to our entire civilisation”, and we need world leaders to step up and deliver real change to limit that threat. Join the movement by taking action here to help protect the environment, as the UK gears up to host a major climate conference later this year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that a ban on petrol and diesel cars in Britain will be expanded and brought forward to 2035 — five years earlier than previously planned under the premiership of Theresa May in July 2017.

The pledge was made at the launch of COP26, which stands for Conference of the Parties: a critical climate crisis summit due to take place in Glasgow from Nov. 9 to Nov. 20 this year. 

It’s been lauded as the biggest climate conference since the historic Paris Agreement in 2015, which set a global consensus and roadmap on reducing carbon emissions to slow down global warming.

The new ban announced on Tuesday now also includes hybrid cars and vans, meaning that you would only be able to purchase electric or hydrogen vehicles after 2035. 

Indeed, Johnson claimed that it could happen even sooner after experts warned the earlier 2040 target would leave too little legroom to achieve the legal requirement to hit “net zero” emissions by 2050 enshrined in law last year.

However, although climate activists welcomed the acceleration, they warned that the new deadline was still not soon enough — and many argued that 2030 is the latest we could aim for and still hit our net-zero goals.

“A new 2035 target will still leave the UK in the slow-lane of the electric car revolution and meantime allow more greenhouse gases to spew into the atmosphere," Mike Childs, head of science, policy, and research at Friends of the Earth, told the BBC.

The launch of COP26 at London’s Science Museum on Tuesday was overshadowed by a very public row over Johnson’s credentials on the climate crisis.

Related Stories Sept. 11, 2019 COP26 Climate Talk is Officially Coming to Scotland in 2020

Much of the criticism came from Claire O’Neill, who was sacked from her role leading COP26 on Friday by Dominic Cummings, the political strategist who is now Johnson’s chief advisor. 

O’Neill wrote an open letter to Johnson saying Britain was “miles off track” on addressing the climate crisis — and told BBC Radio 4’s Today Show that Johnson had “admitted to me he doesn’t really understand [climate change].”

Johnson did not refer to the fallout from O’Neill’s sacking at the launch of COP26 — but did emphasise the significance of the summit as a turning point in a much larger fight to tackle the climate crisis.

“Hosting COP26 is an important opportunity for the UK and nations across the globe to step up in the fight against climate change,” Johnson said in a speech on Tuesday. “As we set out our plans to hit our ambitious 2050 net zero target across this year, so we shall urge others to join us in pledging net zero emissions.”

“2020 must be the year we turn the tide on global warming,” he added. “It will be the year when we choose a cleaner, greener future for all.”