First, it was low emission zones – laws restricting where polluting vehicles can go within a town or city. In Europe more than 200 such zones have been established. Now, national governments are poised to take the next step in the fight against air pollution: limits on the sales of gas and diesel vehicles.
In the Netherlands, the government is pushing forward a plan to end the sales of gas and diesel vehicles by 2030. France and Britain have announced similar plans for 2040. In Norway, which has strong targets for getting gas and diesel cars off the road, 2017 was the first year in which electric and hybrid vehicle sales exceeded 50 percent of total sales. India says it will electrify all new vehicles as soon as 2030. With an expanding electric car market, falling battery prices, and an increasing number of regulations, electric vehicles could replace petrol-powered ones faster than anticipated, some experts say.
China, the world’s largest automobile-producing country, has yet to enforce a ban, but Chinese officials are expected to follow their international counterparts and have hinted at the creation of a timetable for phasing out the production of gas and diesel vehicles. Even now, China has asked automakers to ensure that 10 percent of car sales are electric vehicles by 2019.
The push to get gas and diesel vehicles off the road is the result of continuing concerns about carbon emissions and air pollution, experts say. The World Health Organization identifies air pollution as the largest environmental health risk, attributing 3 million deaths to outdoor air pollution each year.