To complement this ban, the EU proposes to significantly increase fuel taxes (as if they were not already high enough). It also hopes to reduce air travel and, using taxes and incentives, increase rail’s share of trips over 300 kilometers (186 miles) to 50 percent. (Rail has about a 10 percent share of travel today.)
The EU’s white paper is based on a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent. Even if you agree this is a worthwhile goal, the EU’s mistake is to immediately forget about this goal and instead focus on creating “new transport patterns.”
Why does everything have to be about social engineering instead of just solving the problem? Instead of saying, “Let’s use a combination of incentives and new technologies to reduce carbon emissions,” the paper proposes all sorts of prescriptions such as shifting half of road freight transport to rails or water by 2050 and connecting all “core” airports to the high-speed rail network.
The white paper says that “curbing mobility is not an option.” But the EU’s impact analysis provides little evidence that these prescriptions are the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. For one thing, it considers no alternatives to the proposal; without considering alternatives, there is no way to know if the plan is cost-effective.
Even if the prescriptions are cost-effective, they are costly and will reduce mobility. But if they are not cost-effective, then the plan will not only curb mobility, it will do so unnecessarily. That will put Europe at an economic disadvantage to any economy, such as China, India, and–the Antiplanner hopes–the United States that does not try to impose such draconian prescriptions on its people.