European Commission Proposes Ban on Gas and Diesel Vehicles by 2050
The executive body of the EU has announced plans to bar gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from European cities by 2050. If adopted, the proposal would create a unified “European Transport Area,” which would be charged with meeting ambitious pollution and congestion limits and gradually facilitating a comprehensive transition to near-zero-emissions transportation on the continent, by expanding infrastructure and incentivizing alternative-drive commuter and freight vehicles.
The shorter-term goals outlined in a just-released white paper (PDF) detailing the plan, include a 50 percent reduction in the number of non-hybrid petrol- and diesel-fueled vehicles by 2030, and “CO2-free movement of goods in major urban centers” by the same date. (That means lots of hybrids in the coming decades.) Hybrid, electric, and fuel cell cars would receive continued support from governments in the meantime, through policies intended to support research and development, incentives for consumers and manufacturers, and adjusted taxes and fees on conventional vehicles.
The plan and EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas immediately came under fire from automakers and driver groups throughout the world. “If he wants to bring everywhere to a grinding halt and to plunge us into a new dark age, he is on the right track,” said the head of the Association of British Drivers. “The man is off his rocker.”
But though Kallas admits his agency's proposals are radical, he maintains the goals are both reachable and necessary if Europe is to meet emissions targets and eliminate its dependence on foreign oil.
"The widely held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true,” said the commissioner, as reported in The Independent. In the white paper, the body makes it clear that its policies are intended to make transportation in Europe cleaner and safer, but that preserving and enhancing the convenience and freedom of movement enjoyed under the current systems would be a top priority. “Curbing mobility,” the paper says, “is not an option.”
The implications of such a policy would be wide-ranging for the car industry, likely effecting the global lineups every international automaker. Moreover, the increased prevalence of electric-drive vehicles in the European market above already-ambitious existing targets would be a major help in decreasing costs for batteries and other advanced systems currently hindered by low production volume.
The European Commission estimates the scheme would cost roughly 1.5 trillion euros, (or about $2.1 trillion.)
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