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EU to ban petrol and diesel in cities by 2050, integrate rail travel

By Kieran Ball - 30 Mar 2011 11:37:0 GMT
EU to ban petrol and diesel in cities by 2050, integrate rail travel

The European Commission has stated that petrol and diesel should be banned in all European cities in order to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly imported oil, and tackle climate change.

A massive transport plan just published has proposed sweeping changes to road, rail and air travel. The result, the commission says, will be increased mobility and reduced congestion and emissions.

EU Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas said: ''We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win.''

The hefty report proposes, among other initiatives, to phase out the use of traditionally fuelled cars in cities by 2050, force airlines to make 40% of their fuel to come from low carbon, sustainable sources and migrate up to 50% of all inter-city transport from road to rail or boat. All airports and seaports should be connected to the rail network and, where possible, to an inland waterway system.

The result could be a massive reduction in emissions of 60% by 2050. Furthermore, it's thought that a by-product of the measures would be dramatic reduction in the number of road deaths.

At present, the plan seems like a pipe dream, especially considering the amount of investment required in rail infrastructure in European countries currently with an inadequate rail network.

However, many countries have already plans in place that could help the European Commission meets its goals. In the UK, for example, most aerospace manufacturers, airlines, airport operators and traffic managers has signed up to the sustainable aviation initiative. Matthew Knowles of the UK defence and security trade organisation, ADS, believes this will result in the aviation sector meeting a three-fold increase in demand while simultaneously reducing emissions to 2000 levels:

''An example of progress from manufacturers is the Airbus A380, where the standard three class configuration travels 100 passenger kilometres on three litres of fuel, where the average hybrid car needs four litres.''

What's more, the sale and use of electric cars, particularly within city areas, is accelerating all the time. With electric vehicle technology and infrastructure improving all the time and oil prices headed towards historic levels, it's not at all impossible to imagine that our cities really could be free of petrol and diesel vehicles within forty years.