The UK government has pledged to remove most greenhouse gas-emitting cars and vans from its roads by 2050.
The pledge, made during the climate change talks in Paris, follows the UK’s joining of the Zero Emission Vehicle Alliance, established by the Netherlands, the Canadian province of Québec and the US state of California in August this year with the aim of accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles.
“The UK already has the largest market for ultra-low emission vehicles in the EU, and the fourth largest in the world, and today’s pledge reaffirms our commitment to ensuring almost every car and van is a zero emission vehicle by 2050,” said Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
“Electric cars are greener and cheaper to run and we are making them more affordable, spending more than £600m between 2015 and 2020 to support the uptake and manufacturing of ultra-low emission vehicles here in the UK.”
The undertaking is part of the global effort to achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions of more than one billion tonnes per year across the world by 2050.
The UK has been previously described as one of the main culprits of the current environmental crisis related to global warming.
While China is currently the world’s worst polluter, it was the European countries who kick-started the industrial revolution and should bear responsibility for climate change, according to American scientist James Hansen.
“It's not today's emissions that caused the climate change," Hansen said.
"If you look at per capita contributions to cumulative emissions, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany are by far the most responsible. China is an order of magnitude smaller. India is so small it's almost off the chart."
He further added that the major problem is that the use of fossil fuels doesn’t reflect the full impact on society. While the cheapest form of energy, the total price to pay for the use of fossil fuels is thus much higher.
"They're partially subsidised, but mainly they don't include the effects of air pollution and water pollution on human health,” he said. “If your child gets asthma you have to pay for it, the fossil fuel company doesn't. And the climate effects which are beginning to be significant and which will be much larger in the future are also not included in the price of fossil fuels."
Hansen was among the group of scientists whose testimony to US congressional committees in the 1980s helped raise the profile of global warming.
The researcher said there should be a price on carbon, paid by all fossil fuels users and at the domestic source such as a mine or port of entry. The money raised from the fee should be paid out equally to all legal residents of the country.
"That way the person who does better than average in limiting their carbon footprint will make money and two-thirds of the people would come out ahead," he suggested, adding it would also address inequality in incomes, as low-income people would tend to have a lower carbon footprint than people who fly around the world and live in large houses.