European Commission transport proposals cause controversy
The Commisson's White Paper on Transport Policy call for a 50% reduction in internal combustion-engined cars in urban areas by 2030, and a complete ban by 2050.
Friends of the Earth has commented on the proposals, with the UK's transport campaigner Richard Dyer commenting: '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,' said Dyer.
Ford has also criticised the proposals, which it says would not effectively address the issues of congestion and environmental improvement in urban areas. It adds that the proposal seeks to limit consumer choice of what vehicles can and cannot be purchased, and a more robust approach would better improve road transport infrastructure.
'The Commission's position paper while well intentioned would not achieve its goals of improving transportation policy,' said Stephen Odell, chairman and CEO, Ford of Europe. 'I believe the Commission should address the environmental and congestion issues associated with vehicles in urban areas to ensure consumer choice, and drive jobs and economic growth in Europe.'
Whilst Ford said that the use of electric vehicles could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it added that such vehicles would not tackle the issue of urban congestion. It also said that the Commission's white paper does not tackle the issue of how such a sharp demand for electricity within 20 years will be achieved.
'We can do more to advance the debate on the future of urban mobility in the EU if we maintain and enhance the Commission's previous, integrated, multi-modal transport approach that does not favour some transportation modes over others,' said Odell.
'As we have seen in recent months with the German economy, industry is key in aiding economic growth and well-being. It is critical for the future of the European economy that a comprehensive policy is created aimed at strengthening Europe's industrial base.'
The UK has already rejected plans to ban diesel and petrol cars from city centres. Transport Minister Norman Baker said that the EU should not be involved in individual cities’ choices.
'We will not be banning cars from city centres anymore than we will be having rectangular bananas,' he said.
In response, the European Commission has said it's not considering an EU level ban on cars in city centres by 2050 and that individual cities are best placed to decide their own transport mix.
European Commission head of media in the UK, Antonia Mochan said: 'No one city or even country can act alone to bring on stream the technologies needed to tackle the challenges of transport in Europe's cities. That is where action at European level can help. But a blanket ban on conventional cars is not on the table.'