It follows a similar announcement earlier this month by the French government, while German cities including Stuttgart and Munich have also said they are considering banning diesel vehicles.
The British government has also been under pressure to take steps to reduce air pollution after losing legal cases brought by campaign groups.
Speaking on BBC Radio, environmental secretary Michael Gove, said that all newly bought cars would have to be fully electric within a quarter of a century.
“We are confirming that that means there should be no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” he said. “It’s important we all gear up for a significant change which deals not only just with the problems to health caused by emissions but the broader problems caused in terms of accelerating climate change.”
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