Tuesday, 29 March 2011

An interesting question

Under this headline: EU plans to ban all petrol and diesel cars from cities to force drivers to go ‘green’ today's Daily Mail asks "Is the EU's proposed banning of petrol- and diesel-powered cars a realistic objective?"

You can vote either Yes or No - here.

Please don't bother to read the article - it doesn't bear much relation to the actual EU proposals, so it's better use of time to read the original EU document here.

It's all a bit turgid, but the general theme is straightforward: we largely take our freedom to travel and mobility for granted. Our lifestyles and our economy depend on it. However, long-term uncertainty about fuel supplies, environmental impacts and congestion mean that we are going to lose this freedom unless we do something. And there are a lot of things we can do like providing alternatives and encouraging people to use them. It helps to coordinate some of these activities internationally.

Those are hardly contentious ideas, but perhaps a shade too subtle for the Daily Mail to grasp.

The Daily Telegraph carried a similar article. That's not worth reading either, but it has been collecting an entertaining set of bizarre comments (well over 1,400 at present) here.


Paul said...

Thanks for the link.I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a fan of the Daily Mail but I do have (different) reservations. The white paper mostly describes admirable aims we should be working towards. It mentions things like correctly charging externalities, which is essential. So far so good.
But then you get stuff like
"achieve essentially CO2-free city logistics in major urban
centres by 2030".
"Triple the length of the
existing high-speed rail network by 2030"
"30% of road freight over 300 km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030".
Are they the most efficient use of resources? Are they even desirable? Who knows. There will be a lot of technological and societal changes over the next 20 years.
This is described as a roadmap, but I would personally be happier if it stuck to describing where we are trying to get to, not trying to define the technologies to be used to get there.

townmouse said...

I think I'll avoid the articles and the comments ... even the Guardian Bike Blog tends to bring the worst out in the internet commentator so lord knows what the telegraph's and Mail's would be like

Corey Burger said...

Paul, I think I understand what you are trying to say about prescription, but the reality is that the world is not going to change that fast in 20 years. Twenty years ago it was 1991. How much has the way we move around changed since then? In the future, we will still need to move people and freight around and, given those methods have changed much in 80+ years (only the percentages moving on each), I don't see any problem with that.

Paul said...

Corey. I agree with what you say, but fear I explained myself badly, or at least incompletely. I'm not thinking of revolutionary new technology (though I am a bit peeved that the personal jetpack has never become the norm). I was thinking of the evolution of existing technologies, and the lack of knowledge about what the balance of factors will be in 2030. For example at the moment an electric car charged from UK mains produces almost as much CO2 as a conventional vehicle (though opinions vary on the exact figures). How will that balance be in 2030 (especially if nuclear power is less favoured)?
That's why I think the answer isn't to ban, or mandate, anything. Charge external costs correctly, then let the market, i.e. techology and people's personal choices, sort it out. If someone wants to drive a Ferrari through the centre of London, why not? Charge them a fortune for the privilege, and spend the money on stuff with good externalities, like cycling.