Plan to ban petrol and diesel cars from EU cities by 2050

Petrol and diesel-driven cars should be banned from cities across Europe by 2050 to slash dependence on oil and tackle climate change, the European Commission said today.

Petrol and diesel-driven cars should be banned from cities across Europe by 2050 to slash dependence on oil and tackle climate change, the European Commission said today.

A sweeping transport plan to be put to EU governments insists that phasing out "conventionally fuelled" cars by then is not an assault on personal mobility.

Coupled with proposals and targets covering road, rail and air travel, the Commission says its transformation of the European transport system can increase mobility and cut congestion and emissions.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: "The widely held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true.

"Competitive transport systems are vital for Europe's ability to compete in the world, for economic growth, job creation and for people's everyday quality of life."

He insisted: "Curbing mobility is not an option; neither is business as usual. We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility. It can be win-win."

He was unveiling plans adopted by the Commission today for a Single European Transport Area, intended to set up "a fully integrated transport network which ... allows for a profound shift in transport patterns for passengers and freight".

The measures the document proposes, says the Commission, could "dramatically reduce Europe's dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050".

Its key goals by 2050 are:

* No more conventionally fuelled cars in cities;

* 40% use of sustainable low-carbon fuels in aviation; at least a 40% cut in shipping emissions;

* A 50% shift of medium distance inter-city passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and waterborne transport.

The document says that by 2050 the majority of medium-distance passenger journeys - those above about 300 kilometres (186 miles) - should be by rail.

More than half of road freight travelling more than 300 kilometres should move to rail or boat (30% by 2030).

All core network airports should be connected to the rail network by 2050, with all core seaports "sufficiently connected to the rail freight and, where possible, inland waterway system".

For longer-distance travel, and intercontinental freight, air and sea travel will benefit from "new engines, fuels and traffic management systems (which) will increase efficiency and reduce emissions", says the document.

The use of low-carbon fuels in aviation should reach 40% by 2050, with a complete modernisation of Europe's air traffic control system already achieved by 2020 to deliver the "Single European Sky".

For urban transport, the Commission calls for 50% shift away from conventionally fuelled cars by 2030, phasing them out altogether in cities by 2050.

The aim is to achieve "essentially CO2-free movement of goods in major urban centres by 2030".

A huge goal is that by 2050 Europe should "move close to zero fatalities in road transport", with an interim target of halving all road casualties by 2020.

Matthew Knowles, spokesman for the UK defence and security trade organisation ADS, said: "The UK aviation sector - aerospace manufacturers, airlines, airport operators and air traffic managers - has signed up to the sustainable aviation initiative.

"Our CO2 roadmap demonstrates how we will use new technologies to meet the predicted threefold rise in passenger demand to 2050 while simultaneously reducing our CO2 emissions back to 2000 levels.

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

"We are confident we can meet our environmental obligations while continuing to support economic growth because both of which are vital for our future."

Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner, Richard Dyer, said: "Weaning our transport system off its oil addiction is essential to protect people from soaring fuel prices and the planet from climate change. We're all paying the price for a transport policy that's been heading in the wrong direction for far too long.

"Phasing out cars that run on fossil fuels from cities is a good way to kick-start action. But despite these headline-grabbing proposals, the emission reduction targets in the plan lack ambition."

He went on: "Commercial biofuels are not the answer. There's growing concern that commercial fuel crops imported into Europe are destroying forests, driving people off their land and generating more emissions than they save.

"Instead we need better public transport, smarter cars that use less fuel and more walking and cycling for shorter journeys.

"And our planning systems must be overhauled to reduce the distances people need to travel for work or essential services."

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