Drivers of electric cars across the UK may soon be using special green number plates under new plans.
The aim is to make it possible for local authorities to allow zero-emission vehicles to benefit from incentives such as cheaper parking.
The government hopes it will boost electric car sales, helping it achieve its 2050 target of net zero emissions.
But Friends of the Earth said without better financial incentives and more charging points, little would change.
The government is asking industry and the public for their views on how to implement the scheme.
“As the UK moves at pace towards net zero emissions, the initiative aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of zero tailpipe emission vehicles on UK roads,” said the Department for Transport (DfT).
“Through the introduction of green number plates, local authorities would have a useful visual identifier should they wish to introduce incentives to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles, such as allowing these drivers to use bus lanes and to pay less for parking.”
The government said a similar licence plate scheme introduced on a trial basis in the Canadian province of Ontario had led to an increase in electric vehicle registrations.
However, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “While the sentiment seems right, there are question marks as to whether drivers would see this as a badge of honour or alternatively it could foster resentment among existing drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles.
“On the face of it, drivers we’ve questioned don’t seem too impressed – only a fifth think it’s a good idea and the majority said the number plates wouldn’t have the effect of making them any more likely to switch to an electric vehicle.”
Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates urged the introduction of a national scrappage scheme, saying it would “help fund a switch to a cleaner vehicle or greener transport alternative”.