The Government has set a goal for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero-emission by 2040 but this target does not reflect the climate emergency that our planet faces. In Parliament, I urged Ministers to take climate change seriously and bring the target down to 2030.
Electrified vehicles accounted for about one in every 17 cars sold but this market share needs to increase rapidly if the Government is to meet its target of net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
Yet, at a time when the Government should be encouraging drivers to opt for greener vehicles, it has instead chosen to cut its subsidy for electric cars. In October, the Tories reduced the grant for pure electric vehicles from £4,500 to £3,500 and the £2,500 subsidy for plug-in hybrid vehicles was cut altogether.
As the UN Secretary General has said, climate change is an existential threat to humanity. The scale and scope of our policies to address it should not be defined by political compromise, but by what is necessary to keep temperatures within safe levels.
Exhaust fumes not only contribute to climate change but also pose serious health risks. Each year, air pollution causes between 500 premature deaths in Sheffield and 40,000 and 50,000 deaths throughout the UK as a whole. Research by the World Health Organization has also shown that air pollution affects children in uniquely damaging ways, from low birth weight to poor neurodevelopment.
I’m very proud that the next Labour Government will bring about a green industrial revolution and introduce a new Clean Air Act to deal with the legacy of air pollution. In the meantime, I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on these issues at every opportunity.