Green Room

EU Recommends Banning Cars from Cities by 2050

posted at 10:54 am on March 31, 2011 by

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

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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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,

That is a good idea, that would best be used in privatizing road maintenance and construction. (You own the road, you set the toll, you pay to maintain it)

air and noise pollution.

…this, not so much.

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Apparently the gas taxes we’re already paying (.36 cents a gallon in CA) aren’t sufficient.

California’s extra gas tax are a separate loony left issue. Road mileage charges would be a good thing to switch to from a gas tax, not in addition to a gas tax.

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 1:22 PM

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.

I could be wrong, but I think it means charging for costs currently imposed on other people without compensation. The danger is really a matter of the subjective nature of a lot of those costs, which means that there is a lot of room for corruption in the determination of what those costs are.

Count to 10 on March 31, 2011 at 1:26 PM

Somehow, I doubt that this is meant to apply to the bureaucrats themselves.

In fact, with these masses of pedestrians crowding the streets, there may need to be some new rules of the road to allow the bureaucratic betters to get where they need to be to conduct the people’s business…..it should be mandatory for everyone to step off the sidewalk and pull one’s forelock when a public official needs to pass.

cthulhu on March 31, 2011 at 1:28 PM

The purpose of this, it seems to me, is to ensure that people IN the cities don’t leave them (since they don’t have the means to travel elsewhere) and people OUTSIDE the cities don’t come in, since they’d be required to leave their cars and deal with the much less time-efficient mass transit.

The last time I worked in NYC, I drove in. It saved me about half an hour in the morning, when I was up against the requirement to be in at nine AM. It cost me time in the evening, but I had more flexibility then.

If you take that option away, you will destroy the cities as centers for commuters, especially since it is becoming harder and harder to expand mass transit. The recently cancelled Hudson River Rail Tunnel may have been the most worthy mass transit project in the country: an expansion of service facilities in a place where there is proven demand and where that demand stresses the existing facilities to the limit. But because of the various rules and obstacles presented by the federal and state governments, it could not be built at a bearable AND PREDICATBLE cost.

The purpose of this ruling, it seems to me, is to make the cities into ghettos with almost no mobility in or out, either daily or in place of residence. In other words, it is about creating a captive Democratic Party constituency and dependency, to split the country between the urban and suburban parties.

njcommuter on March 31, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Once they get all the folks out of their cars and walking in the city, how long before they have a carbon recapture tax on each breath you take while in the city? The cost of the monitoring device will, of course, have to be borne by the carbon emitter.

notanobot on March 31, 2011 at 8:16 PM