Widespread scepticism has greeted UK Government plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040 over its cost and the need for more urgent action to curb vehicle emissions.
The proposal came in response to a High Court deadline over how ministers would meet European Union limits on nitrogen dioxide pollution.
It is part of a package of measures to improve air quality in England, but the vehicle ban is also expected to cover Scotland, where air quality is devolved.
Motoring groups pointed to the potentially huge loss of tax revenue from engine bans, while environmental campaigners urged more action now.
There were also questions over whether electric and other zero-emission vehicles would be affordable. Hybrid vehicles would also be covered by the ban.
The cost of providing enough re-charging points, and the ability of the national grid to cope with the extra demand for electricity are other concerns.
The UK Government proposal is similar to one announced by France. However, the Scottish Government claimed it was already ahead of the game.
In 2013, it announced “a key ambition is that by 2040 almost all new car sales will be near zero emission at the tailpipe and that by 2030 half of all fossil-fuelled vehicles will be phased-out of urban environments across Scotland.”
However, so far ministers have only announced a pilot low-emission zone, where the most polluting vehicles could be banned, in one city from next year. Both Edinburgh and Glasgow want to be chosen.
Environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “No-one should be in any doubt about the Scottish Government’s determination to improve air quality and fight climate change.
“We want to achieve a dramatic increase in the percentage of ultra-low emission cars and vans on Scotland’s roads and it is encouraging to see the UK Government follow our lead.
“Our Cleaner Air for Scotland strategy sets out how we plan to ensure Scotland’s air quality is the best in Europe and work is already well underway to deliver Scotland’s first low emissions zone.
“Officials are studying the detail of the UK Government’s plans to phase out petrol and diesel cars and, crucially, what they mean for Scotland.”
WWF Scotland acting head of policy Gina Hanrahan called on Scottish ministers to commit to phase out such vehicles by 2030 in their forthcoming Climate Change bill.
She said: “Ending the dominance of fossil-fuel vehicles will reduce emissions, clean up our polluted air and tackle a public health crisis.”
Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? magazine, said it would be “a tall order” to increase the market share of electrified vehicles from 4 per cent of new car sales today to 100 per cent in 2040.