REACTION: Sunak set to backtrack on 2030 ICE sale ban

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering ditching key climate pledges including the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel vehicle sales.

The BBC is reporting that Sunak, who had previously come out in support of the ban and other environmental commitments surrounding electric vehicles, is set to weaken the policies in the coming days.

Responding to the reported plans, he said the government was committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 but in a “more proportionate way.”

The prime minister said: “For too many years politicians in governments of all stripes have not been honest about costs and trade-offs. Instead they have taken the easy way out, saying we can have it all. This realism doesn’t mean losing our ambition or abandoning our commitments. Far from it. I am proud that Britain is leading the world on climate change.”

Back in July, Sunak had reaffirmed his commitment to the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, however just days ago, the Prime Minister hinted at pushing that date back, stating: “The 2030 ban itself is out of step with our competitor countries like the US and EU, who have kicked this back to 2035.” Cabinet minister Michael Gove had insisted the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales was an immovable deadline however, in response to Sunak’s comments.

The government has also continued to back the development of the UK electric vehicle industry over recent weeks, with £75m of government funding going towards BMW’s new electric Mini plant in Oxford, as part of a wider £600m investment.

The proposed move has been heavily criticised, with several Tory MP’s criticising Sunak’s decision. Tory former Cabinet minister Sir Simon Clarke tweeted: “it is in our environmental, economic, moral and (yes) political interests as @Conservatives to make sure we lead on this issue rather than disown it.”

Car giant Ford also hit back at the reported plans. Lisa Brankin, Ford UK chair, said: “Three years ago the government announced the UK’s transition to electric new car and van sales from 2030.  The auto industry is investing to meet that challenge.

“Ford has announced a global $50 billion commitment to electrification, launching nine electric vehicles by 2025. The range is supported by £430 million invested in Ford’s UK development and manufacturing facilities, with further funding planned for the 2030 timeframe.

“This is the biggest industry transformation in over a century and the UK 2030 target is a vital catalyst to accelerate Ford into a cleaner future.  Our business needs three things from the UK government: ambition, commitment and consistency.  A relaxation of 2030 would undermine all three.  We need the policy focus trained on bolstering the EV market in the short term and supporting consumers while headwinds are strong: infrastructure remains immature, tariffs loom and cost-of-living is high.

Labour’s shadow energy secretary Ed Miliband added: “This is a complete farce from a Tory government that literally does not know what they are doing day to day.

“Thirteen years of failed energy policy has led to an energy bills crisis, weakened our energy security, lost jobs, and failed on the climate crisis.”

Industry reaction

Statement from ChargeUK: “For many years the UK has been a leader in the transition to the green economy of the future. Government policies have attracted investment to the UK and created well paid, high quality jobs.

“Members of ChargeUK have committed over £6 billion to roll out EV infrastructure in all parts of the UK at an unprecedented rate, turning on a new public charging point every 20 minutes, creating good, sustainable jobs, supporting the switch to EVs and thereby reducing emissions and improving air quality for all.

“This has been made possible by a clear commitment from the UK government to decarbonise our economy, with the 2030 phase out date for new petrol and diesel vehicles 2030 acting as an essential catalyst. In his first speech as Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak said “I will place economic stability and confidence at the heart of this government’s agenda”. Today’s extremely worrying news is not consistent with economic stability or confidence. It will compromise the entire industry, and place jobs and consumer and investor confidence at risk.

“More importantly, government will penalise individual drivers who are doing the right thing. More and more people are making the transition to electric vehicles, as they have been encouraged to do. They are entitled to expect government to keep its promises and continue to support the roll out of charging infrastructure across the UK.

“ChargeUK calls on the Prime Minister to confirm that the UK government remains committed to the 2030 phase out date for new petrol and diesel vehicles and to a strong ZEV mandate.”

Jordan Brompton, co-founder and CMO of myenergi, said: “The rumoured postponement of the UK’s 2030 date for phasing out new petrol and diesel car and van sales – which of course has always permitted some forms of hybrids to continue to be sold – is not good news for anyone. It weakens confidence in UK investment. Vehicle manufacturers don’t like it. Those of us who are working to decarbonise homes and transport don’t like it. And families that cannot afford a new car won’t like it, because they may have to wait even longer to buy a cleaner and cheaper-to-run electric car in the used market.”

Melanie Shufflebotham, COO and co-founder of Zapmap, said: “The Government should be looking to the future, not the past, so any suggestion of delaying the petrol and diesel ban would be foolish and irresponsible. The climate emergency is already here but Ministers continually fail to recognise the urgency of the situation.
“The growing popularity of electric vehicles shows that drivers are keen to play their part in the transition to cleaner transport, which is a critical part of our journey towards net zero. Any delay increases the risk that we’ll miss those targets. The number of public charging points is rapidly expanding – we’re approaching the 50,000 mark, with growth of more than 40 per cent in the last year alone – so the direction of travel is clear. The Government must stick to its promises and start thinking long-term rather than short-term.”

Joel Teague, founder of Co-Charger, said: “If the announcement comes as rumoured, it makes it even harder for me to come to any other conclusion than one of this government now being on a ‘scorched earth’ path towards leaving their offices next year.   We know that most of the electorate want these green policies. We know the automotive industry wants it left as it is. It’s only the fossil fuel industry that wants it delayed and watered down and we know that the fossil fuel industry has strong links into UK politics and even the prime minister’s own family. The family that just did multi-billion-dollar deals with oil companies.

“The good news is that it will make very little difference in the longer term. At the rate things are going it will be a rare thing for anyone to want a fossil fuel vehicle by 2030. And on top of that, all those sops to the fossil fuel industry won’t save them from obsolescence. Sustainable tech is better, cheaper and more popular. This is the old guard thrashing around as the world moves away from it.”

Peter O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer of, commented: “The sudden news that Rishi Sunak is considering delaying the ban on the production of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035, among other significant changes to existing net zero policies, comes as a disappointing surprise.

“The nature of the ‘announcement’ – a late-night leak after parliament has closed for the conference recess – raises more questions than it provides answers. The immediate backlash from senior figures in the Conservative Party is very telling and the move is possibly the most significant political decision of 2023.

“Given the proximity to the next general election, one has to question if the anti-business policy u-turn is just a poorly planned pre-election challenge to Labour. Sunak claims he’s putting the UK’s long-term interests before his own short-term political needs, but is it believable?

“The fuel of the future is electricity – an opinion fortified by the world’s leading automotive manufacturers, which have worked tirelessly to manoeuvre towards electric vehicles. We’re embarking on a transformative shift away from conventional petrol stations towards a cleaner, sustainable future. Car parks with EV charging are becoming fuelling stations of tomorrow.ditch

“The drastic reduction in carbon emissions by banning the production of petrol and diesel cars in 2030 supports a greener and more sustainable transportation ecosystem and supports consumers, who have been hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis and unprecedented petrol prices in recent years. On the contrary, Sunak’s drastic change of course appears aimed at supporting oil companies as long as possible.”

Quentin Willson, Founder FairCharge, said: “If the government moves the 2030 deadline they risk billions in investment and thousands of jobs. Today car makers, including Ford, have warned that they need policy certainty for future investment decisions in the U.K. Moving this date for short term electoral gain will risk both the entire energy transition and the UK’s international investment credibility. Sunak must ignore the siren calls of a coven of fossil fuel supporting back benchers and listen to the global investment community instead.” 

Kate Tyrrell, CEO & Co-Founder EV ChargeSafe, said: “Sunak delaying any of the industry’s advancement to independently drive the electric transition is unhelpful, disappointment and sadly not surprising. We have seen reports that Sunak’s family personally benefits financially from Oil & Gas money, and he is desperately scrabbling to save blue seats ahead of the next general election, so this feels like a cheap shot at what I feel is the most important item on the agenda as we look to decarbonise transport.

“The impact on the environment is bad enough, but when there are private start-ups, being funded by private investors – confidence has never been more important. The reason for so much private funding? Because public funding is incredibly difficult to achieve in the EV industry. Corrupt politicians and journalists on the payroll of those who financially benefit from ICE vehicles being on the roads longer appear to throw all their energy at winning favour with those they are conditioning to believe that EVs are bad, flaking over much need ULEZ zones for the sake of votes and selling likes and subscriptions by writing lies about electric vehicles.

“I’m sick of it and as a young entrepreneur trying to effect positive change for all motorists, I feel betrayed by this Government and concerned for my business’ future, as well as the UK’s health and global climate targets as a direct result of what Sunak is toying with.

“The ban should stay, our air quality needs it, our children and grandchildren need it,  an indecisive and corrupt government should be the ones to get ‘pushed back’.”

Patrick Reich, CEO and cofounder of EV charging app Bonnet, said: “It would be very disappointing to see the UK lower its ambition just as businesses are investing huge sums and consumers beginning to switch in great numbers to electric vehicles. The mixed messaging from the government is very unhelpful for all and risks pushing global investors away from the UK. We would encourage the Prime Minister in his speech to provide as much certainty as possible, as a lack of clarity helps nobody. We remain committed to making the journey to EVs as easy as possible for drivers across Europe.”

David Martell, Chief  Executive of EVIOS plc and Andersen EV, said: “If the government is truly going to make a U-turn on its commitment to postpone its timetable to move all UK new car sales to be electric or plug in hybrid by 2030 this is a truly regressive step and not good for the country or the wider environment as an example of the UK commitment to Net Zero. I find it most unfortunate that this significant milestone is being potentially put back when the motor industry has been gearing up for it since it was announced by the Conservative government 3 years ago.”

Alok Dubey, Regional Director for Western Europe at Monta, said: “This U-turn from the Prime Minister is rightly sending a shockwave through a rising industry which is currently getting billions of pounds of investment. Why change your position after only three years of setting the deadline?  It feels like political manoeuvring in preparation for a general election next year.

“If the Prime Minister wants to reduce carbon emissions and achieve net-zero targets then he should be considering other methods to incentivise motorists by equalising the VAT rates for charging EVs and encouraging motorists to source greener ways to charge their EVs through renewable energy sources like Solar.”

Tom Hurst, UK Country Manager at Fastned: “Cleaner transport isn’t just important for meeting the existential threat posed by climate change, but more immediately poor air quality is costing lives today. From being at the vanguard of the EV revolution, the UK risks becoming a dumping ground for polluting vehicles from elsewhere.

“It’s especially puzzling given the fierce global race for green investment that the UK is already trying to compete in. Targets help secure investment, and as the UK lead of a European company with millions to invest in charging infrastructure it’s frustrating that in addition to byzantine planning rules and red tape for grid connections, there is now another hurdle in the way.”

Thom Groot, founder of The Electric Car Scheme, said: “Delaying the 2030 date is a disaster for the UK’s reputation as a climate leader and as a safe place to invest. Transport is the UK’s number one source of emissions and must be dealt with. Luckily we have the technology to do so, and until today a policy that helped us get there. The wider car industry has been working towards this date and plunging huge sums of investment into it. Ministers very recently reaffirmed that they were backing it. Now that confidence has been thrown away for cheap political expediency.

“Like thousands of other businesses, we’ve made major decisions based on the Government’s 2030 policy. Some companies will have invested millions of pounds based on it. Ripping the rug out from under them for supposed short-term political gain is immensely irresponsible. This won’t just hurt the big companies like Ford. Thousands of SMEs have made decisions to hire people and invest in the UK based on the ambitious but achievable 2030 policy. They now face a future of complete uncertainty. After all, if the 2030 can shift so easily to 2035, what’s to stop it moving to 2040 a few years later?
“These SMEs have been doing exactly what the Government has been telling them to do – invest in the technology we need to make the UK a powerhouse of the green economy. Now all of that work is being put at risk.”
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