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04 April 2018

Phasing out diesel and petrol cars by 2030 could help add £3bn to the UK economy and create 14,000 jobs in auto industry

Ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles a decade earlier likely to attract new manufacturing investment into electric vehicles, a new report by Vivid Economics for WWF shows

LONDON: Ending the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, rather than the UK Government’s target of 2040, could make the UK a more attractive destination for electric vehicle investment, helping add an extra 14,000 jobs to the UK auto industry, a new report by Vivid Economics for WWF shows. It would also take seven million dirty diesel and petrol vehicles off our roads and reduce air pollution by around 30% in 2030.

Released ahead of Earth Hour 2018, the analysis shows the electric vehicle (EV) industry could employ over 100,000 people in 2030 and add £3bn to the UK economy by attracting new investment.  The report suggests a quicker, 2030 phase out would help transform the UK into a leading producer and purchaser of electric vehicles in Europe by sending sufficiently strong signals to the market to attract at least one new EV manufacturing plant.

The size of the potential EV market created by an early phase out and existing UK auto manufacturing industries expertise in assembly put the UK in a strong position to develop it’s EV industry.  By 2030, the UK could account for 47% of EV demand and produce nearly 1 million electric vehicles per year in 2030. Even under a scenario where a 2030 phase out of petrol and diesel vehicles does not attract new investment, the report shows jobs in the auto manufacturing industry would likely remain broadly level, as it transitioned from petrol and diesel manufacture.

Gareth Redmond King, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF-UK said:

 “We can’t wait until 2040 – through another 22 years of air pollution and greenhouse gases – to end the sale of dirty diesel and petrol vehicles. Right now, other countries, and even vehicle manufacturers, are showing greater ambition than the UK Government. But stopping the sale of these polluters by 2030 will not only clean up our air and cut emissions, but will also bolster the UK economy and give us the best chance to restore nature.”

The research also outlines the benefits to human health and the environment of a 2030 phase out. Currently air pollution causes 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK[1]. But an early phase out would substantially improve air quality - reducing air pollution by 30% in 2030. It would also help the UK meet its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement, bridging nearly half of the gap that currently exists in the UK’s fifth carbon budget – its interim target for carbon emissions by 2032 – and save 280m tonnes of CO2 out to 2050

Moving forward the phase out to 2030 will provide a boost to EVs. But the report also shows that helping the UK’s economy adapt to an EV future will require robust government action to support the electric vehicle industry, including assistance in rolling out car charging infrastructure.  The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill, currently passing through Parliament, the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy due out by the end of the month, and Theresa May’s global zero emission vehicle summit in the autumn all provide opportunities for the UK Government to demonstrate their support for this developing technology.

Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan DBE MP, Chair of the All Party Group on Electric and Automated Vehicles said:

“This study pushes the debate forward on the transition away from polluting fossil fuels to clean electric transport. WWF’s call to accelerate progress is timely and should raise the bar for the Government’s ambition in its forthcoming ‘Road to Zero’ Strategy.”

This Earth Hour, WWF is asking millions of people to make a Promise for the Planet, such as switching to a green energy supplier or buying an electric vehicle. Earth Hour, the largest global event to protect our planet, takes place at 8:30 pm on March 24.


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Notes to the editor

  1. Accelerating the EV transition - Part 1: environmental and economic impacts was produced by Vivid Economics for WWF.  The analysis considers the effects on the environment, the economy and the energy system. Part 1 of the research, on the economy and the environment, is published on 19 March. Part 2 of the research, examining the infrastructure requirements of a 2030 phase out and the contribution of smart charging, vehicle to grid and EV battery reuse for energy storage, will be published later in 2018.
  2. Earth Hour, organised by WWF, is the global event inspiring millions across the world to take action and make a promise to protect our brilliant planet, our home. Right now we’re facing some of the biggest environmental threats ever seen. We’re the first generation to experience the effects of climate change – and we’re the last to be able to change it. We’re seeing our oceans suffocated by plastic and over-consumption decimate our forests, the lungs of the earth. Earth Hour shows what we can achieve when we all come together. Last year in the UK over 9 million people took part, along with over 6,000 schools, 1,700 youth groups, 300 landmarks and thousands of businesses and organisations. Iconic landmarks including Big Ben and Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Blackpool Tower, The Kelpies, Brighton Pier, Cardiff Castle and many more joined the global switch off. Globally, from Samoa to Tahiti, a record 187 countries and territories took part in the world’s biggest Earth Hour yet. The support for Earth Hour and WWF’s work more broadly has influenced climate policy, facilitated climate-friendly laws, such as a ban on plastic in the Galapagos Islands and supported the world’s first Earth Hour forest in Uganda.
  3. Follow WWF-UK on Facebook, Earth Hour Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest


  1. WWF is one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @wwf_uk.


  1. Vivid Economics is a leading strategic economics consultancy with global reach providing services in the policy-commerce interface and resource- and environment-intensive sectors, where we advise on the most critical and complex policy and commercial questions facing clients around the world.