The European Commission, an executive branch of the EU, recently released a report detailing its plan to cut gasoline usage in half by 2030 and eliminate the use of gasoline in cars by 2050. It is claimed that these measures would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by up to 60%. But these measures would also shift the primary modes of long-distance travel from cars and airplanes to ships and railways.
In fact, no gasoline-powered cars would be allowed in city centers at all. This would would not only decrease congestion and smog; it would also decrease auto accidents. 69% of car accidents currently occur in urban areas in Europe. These measures may also reduce the number of people killed in car accidents by 20% by 2020 and eliminate deaths entirely by 2050. Cars and other vehicles would also be subject to taxation depending on how energy-efficient they are; the less energy-efficient a vehicle is, the more it would be taxed.
This plan has been met with some resistance in the UK because it is seen as unrealistic to ban cars from city centers. In fact, the head of the Association for British Drivers believed that Siim Kallas’ plan would plunge Europe into a new dark age. UK Transport Minister Norman Baker took a less divisive stance, stating, “It is right that the EU sets high-level targets for carbon reduction, however it is not right for them to get involved in how this is delivered in individual cities.” He also added that the UK believes in reducing carbon emissions through incentives such as promoting the use of electric cars, walking, and cycling.
Airports would be hit by this gas phaseout in various ways. First of all, airlines would have to increase the amount of low-carbon fuel their planes used, which would gradually increase until it reaches 40% low-carbon fuel by 2050. And airline flights shorter than 186 miles (300 meters) would be phased out by this time. Conveniently enough, all major airports would have to be connected to railways by 2050, so people could easily get to destinations within the 186-mile limit
Like airports, seaports would also have to be connected to the railway system by 2050. While airports would be connected to it for the convenience of travelers, seaports would be connected to it to reduce the amount of trucks and buses needed to ship goods. Maritime fuels would also be affected, with the amount of fuel in use to be reduced by 40% (and up to 50% if possible) by 2050.
Shipping would be greatly affected by this measure. This is because the EU wants to reduce the impact of shipping to only 40% of its carbon emissions by 2050. By 2030, 30% of road freight traveling less than 186 miles would shift to railways or water routes, and this would also increase to 50% by 2050. Freight trucks traveling in cities would also have to be carbon-free.
The European Commission’s document clearly emphasizes that there would be a better connections between rail lines, roads, and waterways. In fact, the “Single European Transport Area” outlined in it would include a single air traffic control system and a more extensive high-speed rail system, among other things.
However, this plan will cost at least 1.5 trillion euros to implement. Despite the enormity of this task, Siim Kallas, the European Commissioner for Transport, is optimistic about its success. “The widely-held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true. We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility.”
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