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Motorists will be unable to buy petrol or diesel cars from 2035 to 2040 at the latest, under new Government rules to tackle climate change.

The end sale date has been moved forward in a bid to help achieve the UK's target of being carbon neutral by 2050.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister, alongside David Attenborough, met local primary school children at the Science Museum in London before speaking to experts, campaigners and politicians.

Boris Johnson urged countries to follow the UK in setting targets to cut emissions, with the electric car policy to be outlined at a United Nations climate summit later in November.

The annual event, known as COP26, will be hosted in Glasgow and sees world leaders gather to discuss how societies can better impact the environment.

The Government plans come after COP26's former president, Claire Perry O'Neill, who was sacked on Friday, wrote a letter published in the Financial Times criticising Boris Johnson's 'failure to support her work.'

Ms O'Neill told him: "You promised to 'lead from the front' and asked me what was needed: 'Money, people, just tell us!' Sadly these promises are not close to being met."

The plan is to help achieve the UK's target to be carbon neutral by 2050 (Image: PA)

She added: "This isn't a pretty place to be and we owe the world a lot better."

The former president also said the PM was "miles off track" in setting a positive agenda for the COP26.

However, these claims were rejected by senior cabinet minister, Michael Gove, who told Sky News: "The cabinet has discussed climate change. The very first item on the agenda in the new year when the Cabinet met was the conference in Glasgow in November.

"We have been working hard in order to ensure we do three things - that Britain sets an example. The Prime Minister is explaining today alongside David Attenborough some of steps we are taking like, for example, banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2035.

"The second thing is making sure countries come together and live up to their promises to reduce carbon emissions and the third thing is extending the range of things that we do to deal with this so it is not just about transport and energy."

Electric car charging point at Chester Services (Image: PA)

The ban, which Government adviser the Committee on Climate Change has called for, will also include hybrid vehicles for the first time which weren't included in the initial 2017 proposal.

At the event on Tuesday, Mr Johnson told the youngsters: "We are trying to get people focusing on what this country is doing to tackle climate change and how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which as I understand it is swaddling the planet like a tea cosy."

He also told them: "We want to get everybody to agree to use new technology such as electric batteries, wind turbines, solar panels, all that kind of thing, so they stop producing so much greenhouse gases."

Mr Johnson said the UK wanted to get to net zero and said "we think we've got to do it", pointing to Britain's role as a leader in the industrial revolution.

Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, said: "The target is a stretch given where we are today – pure electric vehicles only accounted for 1.6per cent of new car sales last year, and even fewer of used.

"That said, consumers do feel ready for the change; appetite and interest is high as environmental concerns play a more influential role in people’s purchasing decisions, but price is still holding many back.

"EVs remain almost double the price of their ICE counterparts, so government grants and incentives are essential to drive meaningful uptake of EVs.”

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