Yesterday, Greenpeace activists drove remote-control electric toy cars under the security gates of Downing Street and down towards Number 10 in a demonstration urging the Prime Minister to back a 2030 ban on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans.
Three miniature electric cars – measuring just 3.5cm in height – were driven under the Downing Street security gates and passed six armed police officers by Greenpeace activists. All were socially distanced and wearing facemasks. The cars were adorned with stickers calling for the ban on new polluting vehicles to be put on a ‘fast track to 2030’.
The government announced in February that it would bring forward the ban on sales of new polluting cars and vans from 2040 to 2035 or earlier, in order to reduce emissions and help tackle the climate emergency. It is now believed to be considering three possible dates – 2035, 2032 and 2030.
However, research shows that, of the three dates being considered, 2030 is the only one that on its own will reduce emissions enough to enable the government to meet its legally binding climate commitments.
An announcement from the government on its decision was expected in September, but it has since been delayed. It is now believed that a decision on the date could be made in the next two weeks.
By taking its ‘fast track to 2030’ message to Downing Street, Greenpeace hopes that the miniature electric cars send a direct and symbolic reminder to the Prime Minister that the climate crisis will not wait, and neither can the ban on new polluting vehicles.
Greenpeace UK’s transport campaigner, Paul Morozzo, said: “These may be toy cars, but we’re not here for fun and games. They’re carrying a serious reminder – we’re in a race against climate catastrophe that we’re almost certain to lose unless we get polluting petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles off the road as fast as possible.
“Switching to electric cars isn’t a silver bullet – we drastically need to reduce road traffic and boost public transport, walking and cycling too. But with petrol and diesel cars and vans responsible for around one fifth of all carbon emissions in the UK, going fully electric by 2030 is absolutely essential if the Prime Minister is remotely serious about tackling the climate crisis. The question is, does Boris Johnson have the bottle to go full throttle on electric cars?”
Not only is a 2030 ban imperative to tackling the climate emergency, but a report, written by Cambridge Econometrics, published yesterday by Greenpeace shows how an early phase out of the internal combustion engine could bring significant economic growth to the UK.
The report found that, by transitioning to electric vehicles in 2030, 32,000 new jobs could be created by the same year and GDP could be increased by 0.2%, equivalent to £4.2 billion pounds.
Pressure has been mounting on the government to bring the ban forward over recent months. One hundred of its own MPs have called on the government to back a 2030 date, as have the Labour Party, cross-party mayors and council leaders. Oil giants BP and Shell , and businesses – including some of the UK’s largest fleets – most recently, Tesco also support a 2030 phase out date.