Budget: 45% of motorists say they would be likely to switch to cleaner vehicle if government provided financial incentive

6 March: Friends of the Earth is calling on the Chancellor to introduce a scrappage scheme for diesel cars after a survey shows that 45% of car owners would change their car to a less polluting model if such an incentive was introduced.
  Published:  06 Mar 2017    |      2 minute read

Friends of the Earth renewed its call on the Chancellor to introduce a scrappage scheme for the dirtiest diesel cars after a survey it commissioned with YouGov revealed that nearly half of car-owning British adults (45%) would be likely to change their car to a less polluting model if they were given government-backed financial assistance.

Friends of the Earth is urging the chancellor to reform Vehicle Excise Duty and Company Car Taxation in this week’s Budget to incentivise the switch from polluting diesel vehicles to cleaner alternatives. 

The environmental campaign group is calling for a scrappage scheme targeted at the dirtiest diesels, paid for by an initial £800 charge for people buying new diesel vehicles – which would raise around £500 million for the Treasury. The scheme should also be used to encourage people to shift away from fossil fuel powered cars and into clean cars and public transport.

A call for a diesel scrappage scheme has been backed by a wide coalition of politicians, businesses and environmental groups.

Air pollution is linked to heart disease, lung cancer, worsening asthma and poor lung development in children and leads to the premature deaths of around 40,000 people* every year in the UK. Road transport is the biggest problem for air pollution and diesel vehicles are the worst of all. 

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Oliver Hayes said:

“It’s time for the Chancellor to lift the fog of inaction on Britain’s filthy air with tough government measures on dirty diesel

“A scrappage scheme is urgently needed to help drivers switch to less polluting vehicles – paid for by a one off charge on new diesel cars.

“How many more people will die prematurely before the government takes the necessary steps to clean up this mess”? 

A nationwide citizen science air pollution experiment was launched by Friends of the Earth earlier this month.

Friends of the Earth is also calling on the Chancellor to take steps to help ensure the UK plays its part in meeting the targets agreed at the UN climate summit in Paris in 2015.


Notes to editors:

  1. The YouGov poll of car-owners found that 45 per cent of those polled agreed they were “very likely” (13%) or “fairly likely” (32%) to change their car to a less polluting, electric or hybrid car if there was a Government backed programme providing some financial assistance (e.g. a scrappage scheme for more polluting vehicles or tax incentives for cleaner vehicles).
  2. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,740 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd - 24th February 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  3. Defra’s air quality plan shows the number of ‘air quality zones’ across the country breaching legal limits for NO2.
  4. Earlier this month Friends of the earth launched a nationwide citizen science air pollution experiment to help people find out more about the air they’re breathing.
  5. Friends of the Earth’s ‘Clean Air Kits’ enable people to test the air quality near them, as well as providing people with tips on how to avoid air pollution and what they can do to help support the fight for clean air. To order a Clean Air Kit visit.
  6. Think tank says Treasury could generate £500million a year to fund a new diesel car scrappage scheme.
  7. Friends of the Earth’s ‘Clean Air’ campaign is supported by the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

If you're a journalist looking for press information please contact the Friends of the Earth media team on 020 7566 1649.

*In September 2018 the government's Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP) revised this figure to “up to 36,000 premature deaths a year”.