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EU Recommends Banning Cars from Cities by 2050

John on March 31, 2011 at 12:43 am

The plan is to reduce carbon emissions by eliminating gas and diesel powered cars:

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The white paper making this recommendation is full of bureaucrat-eze like this:

In the intermediate distances, new technologies are less mature and modal choices are fewer than in the city. However, this is where EU action can have the most immediate impact (fewer constraints from subsidiarity or international agreements). More resource-efficient vehicles and cleaner fuels are unlikely to achieve on their own the necessary cuts in emissions and they would not solve the problem of congestion. They need to be accompanied by the consolidation of large volumes for transfers over long distances. This implies greater use of buses and coaches, rail and air transport for passengers and, for freight, multimodal solutions relying on waterborne and rail modes for long-hauls.

Translated into English this says smaller cars aren’t enough to reach the goal, people will have to ride the bus or train. That’s supposed to happen by 2050, but the paper also calls for cutting the number of cars on the road in half by 2030. Of course the paper takes pains to assure us that this will be a gentle transition:

New mobility concepts cannot be imposed. To promote more sustainable behaviour, better mobility planning has to be actively encouraged.

On page 15 they finally get around to telling us how they plan to encourage the right choices:

Price signals play a crucial role in many decisions that have long-lasting effects on the transport system. Transport charges and taxes must be restructured in the direction of wider application of the ‘polluter-pays’ and ‘user-pays’ principle…

For passenger cars, road charges are increasingly considered as an alternative way to generate revenue and influence traffic and travel behaviour…The long-term goal is to apply user charges to all vehicles and on the whole network to reflect at least the maintenance cost of infrastructure, congestion, air and noise pollution.

Sounds like the entire city will become a toll road. Coincidentally, our own CBO looked at the idea of a pay-by-the-mile tax just last week, so this idea isn’t just being floated in Europe. Apparently the gas taxes we’re already paying (.36 cents a gallon in CA) aren’t sufficient. Finally in the recommendations section we get the kicker:

Phase II (2016 to 2020)
• Building on Phase I, proceed to the full and mandatory internalisation of external costs (including noise, local pollution and congestion on top of the mandatory recovery of wear and tear costs) for road and rail transport.

Funny, but I think “mandatory internalization of external costs” sounds a lot like an “imposed” mobility concept. I thought they said they wouldn’t do that to us just a few pages ago.

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