Quickly following a similar announcement by France, Britain has committed to ban all new gas and diesel cars starting in 2040. Gas, also known as “petrol” in the United Kingdom, is considered to be a health hazard due to the nitrogen oxide it emits.
For Britain, the ban will also include hybrid vehicles, necessitating fully electric cars. The goal is to alleviate poor air quality to improve people’s health.
“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,” said a government spokesman.
While the UK is supposed to be leaving the European Union after the Brexit vote, the plans to reduce gasoline emissions are still based on EU rules. Local governments that have failed to abide by EU regulations will be pushed to develop a number of remedies. These clean air remedies include retrofitting buses, redesigning roads, and reprogramming traffic lights.
The “local emissions hotspots” will be required to devise emission-reduction plans by March of 2018. Some of the plans may include heavy penalties, inspired by London’s new toxic “T-charge” of £10 to be applied to the vehicles that pollute the most.
France is also selling their new car policy as a matter of public health. Nicolas Hulot, the country’s new ecology minister, predicted that the ban will be a “veritable revolution.”
While some raise concerns over the ability of automobile manufacturers to reach such an ambitious goal, he believes that the challenge will be met.
“Our [car]makers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise … which is also a public health issue,” he said.
The Environmental Problems Of Electric Cars
While the move might seem to be universally celebrated by environmentalists, in reality, electric cars are not the panacea politicians have made them out to be.
Electric cars have two main environmental challenges that must be resolved if they are to be truly green. Number one is the issue of where the electricity to power the batteries comes from. Second is the problem of battery disposal.
For example, in China, where electric car usage is very high, the production of electricity from coal plants actually causes more air quality issues than gasoline cars. While the particulates from a gas-powered car are generated directly in populated areas, overall, the production of particulates from coal power plants exceeds that of the cars.
While the problem of coal power might be solved with alternative sources of energy, the problem of battery disposal is perhaps harder to fix.
“Even if there is enough lithium to displace the 1 billion internal combustion engine cars that now pollute the earth with electric cars, it is the electronic waste problem – one of the most intractable problems now faced by humanity – that should dominate the question,” according to TheEnergyCollective.com.
Regardless of the potential problems of electric cars, other countries are also considering banning gas and diesel cars. India and Germany are two countries that might join the trend.