The government has confirmed it will make all new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) zero-emission by 2040. The policy, which was revealed at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, follows on from the announcement that the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars will end 10 years earlier, in 2030.

With the introduction of the new policy, the Department for Transport (DfT) says the sale of new, internal combustion-powered HGVs weighing 26 tonnes and under will be banned in 2035, while all new HGVs will be zero-emission by 2040. The department claims the UK will become the first country to “commit” to phasing out new, non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles by 2035.

The DfT also says the latest pledge will stand alongside the existing new car policy to end the sale of all polluting road vehicles within the next two decades. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the move would help prevent temperatures rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

HGV passing by on the road

From our roads to the skies, the transition to zero-emission transport has reached a tipping point,” he said. “We know that transport plays a key role saving the planet from warming above 1.5°C, which is why this is the COP that will kick start our ambition for zero-emission aviation and why I’m proud to be uniting world leaders to tackle climate change – creating new opportunities for clean growth, green jobs and improved air quality right across the globe.

“To support the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), it’s integral that we have the infrastructure to support it. My vision is for the UK to have one of the best EV infrastructure networks in the world, with excellent British design at its heart.”

Man on tiny scooter between car and HGV truck in London traffic

Meanwhile the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive, Gerry Keaney, said the move would help decarbonise the road haulage industry.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome update and will support the industry in its drive towards decarbonisation,” he said. “BVRLA members are already leading the way in making positive changes and it’s vital that regulations acknowledge the different challenges experienced from one vehicle type to another.

“Use cases of HGVs vary significantly, so we welcome the government’s intention to consult on derogations that will enable a fair and achievable transition. The BVRLA looks forward to working with the government on the delivery plan that will be essential in ensuring the UK road transport network can be decarbonised successfully.

“The approach must be comprehensive, particularly around HGVs where the barriers remain huge. The recent funding that was announced to support trials of zero emission technology for the sector is a very positive step, and we eagerly await the clarity this will bring to help meet the phase-out dates.”