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U.K. to Ban Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles by 2040

Is the ICE age beginning to thaw in Europe?

Following the footsteps of the French, the British government intends to ban fossil fuel-powered vehicle sales by 2040, according to the BBC. This commitment to clean air is the second of its kind planned for that year to affect an entire country, effectively phasing out vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (a.k.a. ICE) within the first half of the century in parts of Europe.

Recently, France declared its intention to ban the sale of gas and diesel powered cars within the country by 2040, citing the environmental impact of the transportation sector as one of the deciding factors in passing the legislation. The Brits share a similar concern, as air quality begins to worsen in Great Britain’s major cities, raising concerns that its pollution will creep towards that of India or China. A government spokesman had the following to say to The Guardian regarding the justification of the commitment:

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. That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn [$3.9 billion] programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.

U.K. government spokesman

A clear effort is being made to help combat a threat that European public health officials believe could be responsible for 40,000 deaths per year in the U.K. What was originally believed to be reserved for just select cities, much like Germany’s recent efforts, has now become a more extreme plan likely to involve the entire country.

Despite the projected implementation date of 2040, environmental lawyers are regarding the draft of the proposed commitment as “much weaker than hoped for.” The document (which is expected to be published Wednesday) will heavily focus on areas in the U.K. that have specifically breached EU emission thresholds.

The plan is expected to not only include banning the sale of the ICE-powered vehicles, but also to rework the transportation infrastructure across the country. This includes road layouts, traffic control devices, and retrofitting public transportation with electric power. In addition to reform of current infrastructure, $130 million (converted from £100 million) is expected to be invested into the country’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, a key step in ensuring that electric transportation has the ability to thrive. Comparatively, in the United States, the majority of charging infrastructure development is driven by the manufacturers.

The U.K. and France are not the only key players headed towards a zero-emission vehicle future. Norway leads the world with one-third of every new car sold being electric, and the nation is planning to make the ICE obsolete by 2025. China is fast-tracking their way into the electric car world using manufacturer fleet requirement mandates. Norway India wants all of its cars to be powered by electric propulsion by 2030. Conversely, Germany has expressed interest in exclusively producing electric vehicles alone by 2030.

There’s a lot of tension in the auto community between car guys who prefer petrol-powered powerhouses and the early adopters of electric cars. But we’re going to need to start getting along (whatever side you take), because an increasing amount of countries are getting on board with the idea that electricity will be the sole fuel for future cars. It’s happening a lot sooner than you might think.