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by Brett Davis

The European Commission has announced a new proposal which could see petrol and diesel cars banned in dense city areas in the EU by 2050. The plan hopes to cut overall carbon emissions by as much as 60 percent through implementing a number of shifts in transport patterns.

As a side benefit, the plan also hopes to reduce road-related deaths by as much as 50 percent by 2020 and hopes to “move close” to eliminating road deaths completely by 2050. EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, is also hoping to shift up to 50 percent of “middle distance” road users onto trains. This would apply for commuters and freight travelling distances over 300km.

UK Transport Minister Norman Baker has since rejected the plans for UK roads though, and summed up what he thought of them in a pretty frank sentence, saying,

“We will not be banning cars from city centres anymore than we will be having rectangular bananas.”

We’re not quite sure what Mr Baker means there but the plans do seem a bit optimistic. Eliminating road-related deaths completely is a far-fetched achievement to begin with, and then trying to funnel up to 50 percent of road users onto trains and buses just makes the entire idea a bit out of reach.

Such movement would put huge stress on rail transport systems, even after a complete revamp of the infrastructure, which would obviously be needed.

Hugh Bladon, a British Drivers Association spokesman was equally as dismissive as Mr Baker about the plans, saying in a recent report,

“I suggest that he [Kallas] goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum. 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. We have to keep things moving. The man is off his rocker.”

Meanwhile, commissioner Kallas says these moves don’t necessarily have to inconvenience people, saying,

“Freedom to travel is a basic right for our citizens. Curbing mobility is not an option. Nor is business as usual. The widely-held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true.”

Kallas says, “We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility”.

If the electric car industry takes off, the plan could be achievable, but if further EV development hits a dead end, it could become difficult. What do you think though, would this be a feasible action plan or is it just an overly optimistic dream?