The government may have to phase out sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans earlier than its target date of 2040, according to a watchdog set up by Parliament.

The Committee on Climate Change has reviewed the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy and reported that it in order to meet its emissions targets it should aim to phase out conventionally powered cars and vans by 2035.

It also said targets for take-up of ULEVs (ultra low emission vehicles) needed to be increased. The government has set out an ambition for 30-70% of car sales and up to 40% of van sales in 2030 to be ULEVs.

In its report the committee said the target would need to be 60% of new car and van sales to be ULEVs by 2030, and there would need to be a 32% increase in the efficiency of conventional cars.

The committee also noted that with current battery technology, options for electrification of long-distance heavy good vehicles (HGVs) were limited. It said: “Further research and development is needed on options, such as hydrogen fuel cell HGVs or electrification of roads. The entire HGV fleet may need to switch away from fossil fuels if emissions reductions beyond 80% are required. We welcome the announcement in the Strategy that the Government will set out further measures, by March 2018, to support the decarbonisation of freight.”

The report also contrasted targets the committee had proposed with progress towards meeting them. It said that by 2030 CO2 emissions from transport would need to be 44% less than 2016 levels. However, transport emissions have increased over the past three years.