Petrol/diesel cars out of EU cities by 2050

If I were to write that all gas lighting were to be banned by next year, I fear there would be little or no objection.  In fact, there is only a handful of lights across the world still lit by gas, most of which are retained out of historic curiosity.  Similarly, the announcement by the European Commission on Monday that it wished to aim for zero petrol or diesel vehicles in the EU’s future cities should cause minimal concern.

Banning vehicles entirely would of course be nonsensical.  It would be the quickest way to kill off our city centre economies.  In 2050, though, how many cars will actually be wholly propelled by petrol or diesel?  Probably very few.

I am, however, delighted in the alarmist response from the Association of British Drivers: “I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum,” said Hugh Bladon, BDA spokesman.  “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.”  How very tabloid.

It is easy for our European friends to make sweeping directives which become active many years in the future – in fact probably beyond the driving years of those who actually made the announcement.  But in proper British spirit, we should all be working hard on the key issues affecting the transition from burning fossil fuels under the bonnet: how best to carry the energy and the associated charging mechanisms/infrastructures. 

If we do this effectively and quickly, it should negate the requirement for legislation.  With such a small percentage of petrol/diesel vehicles on the roads in 39 years’ time, the emissions  impact will be negligible and it won’t be worth the cost of policing.  I’ll go further.  In 2050, the small number of fossil fuel burning motors will be protected by the government in the spirit of preserving our history – in the same manner as those remaining gas lamps.  And surely that is a good thing.

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