Oil CEO supports earlier gas/diesel ban. Government, not so much.

Disused Shell oil pumps photo
CC BY 2.0 Srikanth Jandhyala

Well, this is awkward...

Yesterday, I wrote about a UK mandate that all new construction be built with electric vehicle charging already installed. It was, I argued, a welcome step toward more mainstream adoption. And it made sense as a benefit for all consumers—not just current electric vehicle owners—given that the government was also planning to ban sales of petrol/diesel-only cars by 2040.

That ban, however, appears to be shifting. And not in the right direction.

Green groups are up in arms, reportedly, that the government is now indicating that hybrid vehicles—not just plug-in hybrids—will still be allowed under this plan. This means cars that still burn a significant amount of gasoline and/or diesel may still be being sold more than two decades from now. It's hardly a move that's in keeping with Britain's espousing of "high ambition" climate action, but you'd think that oil CEOs, at least, would be pleased.

Or maybe not.

According to a report in The Guardian last week, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden is actually on record arguing that the UK bring forward its petrol/diesel plan, suggesting that clarity on electrification would help everyone—Shell included—to make decisions about investment moving forward. (Shell has already made waves buying up both electric utilities and electric vehicle charging networks.)

Given that the country's grid operator, National Grid, has also stated that it sees no impediment to bringing the ban forward to 2030, it's disappointing to see the government sticking to such a long, slow phaseout. Adding the hybrid exemption to the mix just feels like rubbing salt in the wounds.

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