The Government has dismissed calls by MPs to bring forward the date when sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned.

Last year the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee called for the date to be brought forward from 2040 to 2032.

In its report, Electric vehicles: driving the transition, it said: “We recommend that the Government prioritise overarching policy goals on climate change and air quality over sectoral interests, and bring forwards a clear, precise target for new sales of cars and vans to be truly zero emission by 2032. This would put the UK in the ‘first tier’ league of nations leading the EV transition, and help to harmonise objectives across the UK.”

In the Government’s response, published on January 11, it said: “The Government recognises the importance of overarching policy goals on climate change and air quality. The Clean Growth Strategy set out pathways for meeting the UK’s long-term emissions reduction target of 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

“The 2040 ambition is consistent with this evidence on pathways for meeting 2050 targets, and sets a clear level of ambition for industry to work towards.

“The Committee on Climate Change monitors progress and ambition against 2050 targets and they have reported that the UK should be aiming for 60% ultra-low emission vehicle uptake across cars and vans in 2030, which is consistent in terms of carbon with the ambitions set out in the Road to Zero strategy.

“The UK was one of the first major economies to announce an end to the sale of conventional new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040, going further than almost every other European nation. This is an ambitious but achievable target and this Government believes it is a key part of the answer to the UK’s long term transport air quality and greenhouse gas issues. It puts the UK at the forefront of the global transition to zero emission vehicles.”