Fuel Consumption Guide

This page was last updated on 9th March 2020

Cars and Emissions

Climate change, often referred to as global warming, is the greatest environmental threat facing the world. When fossil fuels – petrol, diesel and most alternative fuels, are burnt for energy in an internal combustion engine the main by-products are water and carbon dioxide (CO2).  Although not directly harmful to human health, CO2 is the most significant of the greenhouse gases (GHG) contributing to climate change.

In the UK, road transport is now the largest source of COemissions.

The combustion process also results in gases, and particles (known as particulate matter or ‘PM’), that can be hazardous to health. Tyre, brake and road wear is a further source of PM.  Poor roadside air quality causes immediate (acute effects) and/or longer term (chronic) impacts. The new official test, WLTP, as discussed above, provides more representative information on fuel economy, CO2 and air pollutant emissions.  Since 1 January 2019, WLTP has been used for official consumer information on fuel economy.  A later date of 6 April 2020 for WLTP derived CO2 emissions has been set, to align with related changes to taxation and other motoring costs including incentives for some ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs).  Official point of sale information will be amended as of these dates.  Government continues to work with motor manufactures and other stakeholders to consider how information can be improved.

In July 2018, the government set-out its strategy to meet both short and longer-term reductions in CO2 and air quality emissions including ending the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.  Our ‘Road to Zero’ strategy sets out plans to enable a massive expansion of green infrastructure across the country, reducing emissions from the vehicles on the UK’s roads, and drive the uptake of zero emission cars and vans.

The Climate Change Act 1998 sets progressively tougher targets for reducing GHGs.  On 12 June 2019, the Prime Minister announced that the UK will eradicate its net contribution to climate change by 2050.  The 2050 target of net zero GHG emissions became law on the same day.