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By Dave Van Zandt

The UK aims to achieve its net zero climate change target by ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. However, a loophole has emerged due to the Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the Windsor Framework. This framework creates a backdoor into the UK market, allowing British drivers to bypass the country’s stricter rules by exploiting the differences in trade regulations between Northern Ireland and Britain.

The fundamental issues of the Protocol remain unresolved, causing some UK drivers to use the Northern Ireland loophole to obtain EU licenses, allowing them to continue driving non-UK-compliant cars without adhering to the UK’s net zero rules. The loophole exists due to Northern Ireland’s unique relationship with the EU’s single market for goods, which was established to avoid a hard Irish border. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been focusing on creating a smooth and unfettered trade between Northern Ireland and Britain, making transporting vehicles between the two countries easier. However, critics argue that the government’s approach has unintended consequences, such as undermining the UK’s efforts to achieve its climate change goals.

While the UK aims to ban pure petrol and diesel engines by 2030 and allow hybrids for another five years, Northern Ireland has set a goal of net zero by 2050. The difference in climate change targets and policies between the UK and Northern Ireland highlights the challenge of harmonizing their efforts. This difference may incentivize more British drivers to explore ways to bypass the stricter regulations.


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