Europe's war on gas-guzzling motor vehicles just stepped up a gear. Although many of the continent's largest cities already have "congestion zone" taxes, the European Union wants to take it a step further and ban gas and diesel-driven cars from city centers completely. Siim Kallas, the EU transport commissioner, said that new laws and taxes would force people out of their cars and onto public transport. "That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centers," he said. "Action will follow, legislation, real action to change behavior." Is the EU's "draconian" plan a good idea?
Is the EU out of its mind? Kallas should find himself "a space in the local mental asylum," says Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph. This ludicrous plan would "bring everywhere to a grinding halt" and "plunge us into a new dark age." We have to keep up with progress. "The man is off his rocker."
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This is actually possible in Europe: Americans and car manufacturers will be aghast at this "draconian plan," says Kurt Bakke at Conceivably Tech. But such a change would be a "much more reasonable goal in Europe," where many city-dwellers are able to easily "get by without owning a car at all." If anywhere can do it, it's Europe.
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Critics are missing the big picture: Focusing on the gas-guzzling car ban loses sight of the plan's "deeper goal," says Jason Kambitsis at Wired, which is to create a "thoroughly integrated transportation network," making it easier for Europeans to travel by rail and sea. It would make for a less polluted continent, and fewer road fatalities. Surely everyone can get behind that, right?
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And, this story has been blown out of proportion: Kallas actually hasn't suggested a ban, says Bertel Schmitt at The Truth About Cars. What he did was write a white paper, which carries about as much weight as an "op ed piece in The New York Times." The white paper talks about replacing gas-driven cars with futuristic-sounding, sustainably-fueled cars. But until they are invented, Kallas "might as well have called for eternal happiness, the elimination of heart attacks and a worldwide ban of the common cold." It's "fluff," pure and simple.
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