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Environmental campaigners slam the Tories' ‘Road to Zero’ emissions strategy

THE government’s “Road to Zero” strategy to reduce vehicle emissions announced today has been slammed by environmental campaigners.

Morten Thaysen of Greenpeace, described the target of banning the sale of new petrol and diesel-burning cars from 2040 as “weak by international standards.”

“The car industry should be in the doghouse for its diesel pollution and stalling emissions reductions,” he added.

“But instead of being pulled up, it’s yet again being given a free pass from the government to carry on business as usual.”

The strategy states that “cleaner diesel cars and vans can play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions” during the transition to zero-emission vehicles.

But Unite has warned that the new policy lacks direction. Assistant general secretary Tony Burke said the transition must not be at the expense of Britain’s automotive industry.

“After years of confusion and indecision the government’s latest policy fails to tackle the huge infrastructure changes needed for drivers to be able to use their vehicles and lacks detail on jobs and future employment,” he said.

“At this time of huge economic uncertainty the government is in severe danger of further damaging the car industry due to a failure to fully appreciate the challenges of introducing electric cars.”

Mr Burke said the government needs to “avoid unilateral off-the-cuff statements” and properly consult industry and unions for the proposals to be met.

Unite believes that for the government’s electric car plans to be successful there needs to be far more investment in Britain’s infrastructure to drive the demand for electric cars, including battery production, recycling and charging.

Labour’s London Assembly spokesperson for the environment Leonie Cooper said the decision to keep hybrids on the road was “extremely disappointing” because she said it waters down the government’s “already inadequate” target.

“We urgently need the government to stop dragging their feet and put the measures in place to push through the wholesale transition to electric vehicles,” she added.

“With thousands of Londoners dying prematurely every year due to air pollution, we need much stronger assurances that the government are serious about taking the most polluting vehicles off our roads.

“We know that there is a cross-party consensus that more urgent and resolute action needs to be taken.”

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