As part of its climate change agenda, the UK Government is consulting on bringing forward the date at which the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars is outlawed from 2040 to 2035.

We believe that this move makes little sense given the tremendous costs in financial, labour rights and environmental terms of much battery technology at present. John Naish’s article for The Daily Mail spells out well many of the issues involved.

The best solution for the British Isles is to have a wide range of available fuels for passenger vehicles to ensure energy security in a world where energy and raw materials supply is contested and unpredictable. It will make the UK more dependent on access to the world’s finite supplies of lithium and cobalt, and beholden to the great powers who control them. A more permissive approach would better reflect the diversity of economic needs and would better protect our energy security.

Let’s be absolutely clear: fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol, electricity from renewables, and in particular hydrogen are the future. However, rushing to that future will make the UK less competitive, and will in effect mean that ‘Rip Off Britain’ is subsidising the rest of the world. As fossil fuels become more scarce, the market will ensure that handle that transition for us. (We didn’t need a ban on horses to make the transition to combustion engines!)

In the meantime, a multipronged approach designed to maximise fuel variety and availability; to facilitate necessary infrastructure changes; and, to encourage research and development makes much more sense as a policy approach than a crude ban.

Details of the consultation can be found here.

The deadline for responses is “as soon as possible” and no later than 31 July 2020.

Author: David McHutchon

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