Diesel taxis in London (Image by Flickr user Lars Ploughmann, used under CC license)Enlarge Photo
The United Kingdom will follow in the footsteps of some European countries as it announced plans to ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars by the year 2040.
The initiative closely follows a similar announcement from France, which also declared 2040 as the year it will phase out fossil-fuel vehicles
Norway and the Netherlands have also announced similar plans, though both plan on banning the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2025.
The UK's decision was announced by the country's Environment Minister, Michael Gove, who also outlined a handful of proposals to ensure the goal is met, according to The Guardian.
One proposal would include a "scrappage scheme," similar to a cash-for-clunkers initiative, to trade in fossil-fuel powered cars for more efficient electric vehicles.
Although the UK would prioritize the sale of battery-electric vehicles, hybrids would still be permitted, per Gove's announcement.
BYD London double-decker busEnlarge Photo
Another would see multiple "clean air zones" created in different cities, which would involve a tax on motorists driving gasoline or diesel cars.
However, the government made it clear it will look at additional taxes only as a last resort.
The UK will also invest heavily in solutions that can have an impact in the short term.
Retrofitting buses with cleaner engines, changing road layouts, and reprogramming traffic signals are all being considered as tactics to improve air quality—and a formal plan for these initiatives is expected in March 2018.
Aggressive policies like those the UK has proposed are often seen as major incentives to encourage electric-car purchases.
The market for electric vehicles is expected to increase in the coming years, but government policies can boost consumer interest.
Nissan e-NV200 Taxi for LondonEnlarge Photo
In Norway, half of the country's new-car sales are now either hybrid or plug-in electric cars.
Electric cars are excused from additional taxes and fees gasoline-powered cars face there, and perks such as free charging or access to restricted bus lanes incentivize ownership.
In the United States, things are different, however.
Gasoline remains inexpensive throughout the country and most consumers are unaware electric-car charging stations exist.
The push for zero emissions in Europe also comes as the current U.S. presidential administration plans to relax emission regulations and claims it will boost the use of fossil fuels.
Regardless of what happens in North America, however, it's clear Europe will continue to move at an aggressive pace to limit and finally eliminate use of fossil fuels for personal transport.