Britain to ban gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040

London (CNN) – Britain will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of a bid to clean up the country’s air.

The decision to phase out the internal combustion engine heralds a new era of low-emission technologies with major implications for the auto industry, society and the environment.

“We can’t carry on with diesel and petrol cars,” U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove told the BBC on Wednesday. “There is no alternative to embracing new technology.”

Almost 2.7 million new cars were registered in the U.K. in 2016, making it the second biggest market in Europe after Germany.

Meeting the 2040 deadline will be a heavy lift. British demand for electric and fuel cell cars, as well as plug-in hybrids, grew 40% in 2015, but they only accounted for less than 3% of the market.

Still, experts say sales of clean cars are likely to continue on their dramatic upward trajectory.

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