All of Britain’s road vehicles will be battery powered by 2050, according to proposals by energy secretary Chris Huhne.

Under the government’s carbon plan, the 30 million petrol and diesel cars and vans on Britain’s roads will be replaced by a new generation of electric vehicles that can be charged from low-carbon sources of electricity such as wind farms.

Emissions in the UK must by law be cut by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050. The carbon plan sets out progress to date and assesses cost-effective next steps. It reveals that UK emissions have already been cut by more than 25% on 1990 levels, and focuses in on viable ways of meeting the fourth carbon budget – getting to a 50% cut in emissions by the mid-2020s.

Huhne said: “To the public and businesses at home, rightly worried about the cost of living and state of the economy, the carbon plan shows that the gradual rebalancing of our economy away from carbon is achievable and, in the long run, highly desirable.

“Every bit of progress we make is one more step away from import dependency, away from price volatility and from the emissions that threaten our way of life. Our national economic interest is to be found in a cost-effective transition to low carbon, to an economy that is more resilient, innovative and efficient.”

Under the plan, the 2020s will be the decade of mass deployment of key technologies. These include reducing emissions from transport through ultra-low emission vehicles, and the average emissions of new cars will need to fall by at least a half by 2030.

The UK’s power supply is to be decarbonised through 40-70GW of new low carbon generating capacity including the equivalent of 3 to 5 twin reactor stations of the type recently applied for at Hinkley Point C, 3-5 times as much renewable power than currently installed and CCS technology on up to 10GW of fossil fuel plant, equivalent to fitting capture technology to generation capacity that is two and a half times the size of the UK’s largest coal-fired power station.