EDITOR’S COMMENT: The government needs to make sure it heeds the fears of its new voters in the north: they do NOT support the petrol and diesel ban.

Concern about climate change is at 88 per cent among the group with the highest proportion of northern and Leave voters, and those who swung from Labour to the Tories at last election, in a survey of more than 10,000 people. But 70 per cent of that group feel that a ban on petrol and diesel cars would be unfair because it would add extra cost to daily life.

More than 70 per cent also feel a ban on diesel cars would be unfair because earlier Governments promoted diesel as a greener fuel. The Government is expected to this week bring forward the date for the phase-out of new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, as part of a ten point green industrial plan. 

Data from the survey, conducted by YouGov for non-profit Climate Outreach, highlights the perception challenge the Government faces over the widespread introduction of electric vehicles in the next decade.With transport counting for around a third of all the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, decarbonising will be crucial if the Government is to meet its legally binding commitment to net zero by 2050. 

The challenge could be particularly acute outside major cities. Data from the Department for Transport shows car use is up to three times higher in areas outside of London than in the capital city. “One of the key lessons from this research is that people need proper support to switch to cleaner forms of transport – that’s why the plug-in car grant and charging infrastructure funding is so vital, alongside an ambitious phase-out date for new petrol and diesel cars,” Sam Hall, the director of the Conservative Environment Network said.

“We should acknowledge that EVs are currently more expensive to buy upfront than petrol and diesel cars, however this situation is rapidly changing.” Several surveys have suggested people are reluctant to invest in EVs because of the upfront cost and concern over charging infrastructure. 

New EVs cost significantly more than traditional cars, despite subsidies of up to £3,000, with the cheapest starting from around £11,000. But the cost of an EV over its lifetime is projected to be cheaper than a petrol car. The Department for Transport has doubled funding this year for public charging points, which have risen fivefold since 2015. But recent data from AA shows just one in six councils have installed on-street charging, and 14 per cent of councils have no plans to install new charging points. 

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