Cars and Emissions

When fossil fuels - petrol, diesel and most alternative fuels, are burnt.

Climate change, often referred to as global warming, is the greatest environmental threat facing the
world. When fossil fuels - petrol, diesel and most alternative fuels, are burnt
for energy in an internal combustion engine the main by-products are water and
carbon dioxide (CO2). Although not
directly harmful to human health, CO2 is the most significant of the greenhouse
gases (GHG) contributing to climate change.
In the UK road transport is now the largest source of CO2 emissions.

The combustion process also results in gases, and particles
(known as particulate matter or ‘PM’), that can be hazardous to health. Tyre,
brake and road wear is a further source of PM.
Poor roadside air quality causes immediate (acute effects) and/or longer
term (chronic) impacts. The new official test, WLTP, as discussed above,
provides more representative information on fuel economy, CO2 and air pollutant
emissions. Since 1 January 2019 WLTP has
been used for official consumer information on fuel economy. A later date of 6 April 2020 for WLTP derived
CO2 emissions has been set, to align with related changes to taxation and other
motoring costs including incentives for some ultra low emission vehicles
(ULEVs). Official point of sale information
will be amended as of these dates.
Government continues to work with motor manufactures and other
stakeholders to consider how information can be improved.

In July 2018 government set-out its strategy to meet both
short and longer-term reductions in CO2 and air quality emissions including
ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 Our ‘Road to Zero’ strategy sets out plans to
enable a massive expansion of green infrastructure across the country, reducing
emissions from the vehicles on the UK’s roads, and drive the uptake of zero
emission cars and vans. The Climate
Change Act 1998 sets progressively tougher targets for reducing GHGs. On 12 June 2019 the Prime Minister announced
that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050. The 2050 target of net zero GHG emissions
became law on the same day.


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