EUs War on Cars

Some people say the “war on the automobile” is a right-wing myth. Then the European Union goes and proposes to ban cars (or at least fossil-fuel-burning cars) from cities by 2050.

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.

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28 thoughts on “EUs War on Cars

  1. Andrew

    Shouldn’t the first question be not whether social engineering is needed to solve a problem, but if there is a problem at all with so-called greenhouse gases?

    I question if there is one, and if so, whether the social engineers really believe it. Think of it this way.

    MAJOR PREMISE: If the earth is in stasis in a carbon cycle without the burning of fossil fuels, then the burning of ANY such fuel at all over the most nominal amounts creates additional CO2 which accumulates in the atmosphere. If the running up of CO2 levels because of industrial society is truly leading us to imminent planetary catastrophe, then the only responsible solution is the complete end of industrial society and the return to an agrarian/mechanic economy and lifestyle such as practice by the Amish.

    Merely making an 80%, or 60%, or 40% cut IN FORTY YEARS TIME in present emissions does not stop the run up in CO2 levels, nor does it give the earth time to reverse the level through carbon reabsorbtion to a supposedly safer pre-industrial level, it just slows the continued growth, and thus the alleged problem continues and worsens from the already supposedly bad present.

    MINOR PREMISE: Global warming true believers for the most part do not act as though global warming is real (they jet around the world far more than most people for their conferences and research, drive cars and trucks, use electricity in copious quantities, and heat and cool their houses like everyone else, and generally participate in modern society) nor do they propose solutions which would end carbon accumulation in the atmosphere.

    CONCLUSION: As the proposed solutions would not actually solve the alleged problem, and the promoters of these solutions are not leading by example as if it were a real dire crisis as they state, I suggest the alleged problem is a complete hoax and the proposed solutions actually motivated by other ulterior motives and unstated goals which would be politically unpalatable and unsalable in a democratic system without the demagougery of crisis.

  2. bennett

    Andrew says: “I suggest the alleged problem is a complete hoax and the proposed solutions actually motivated by other ulterior motives and unstated goals which would be politically unpalatable and unsalable in a democratic system without the demagougery of crisis.”

    Please enlighten us as to what exactly the “ulterior motives and unstated goals” are.

  3. bennett

    “Why does everything have to be about social engineering instead of just solving the problem?”

    Why is every governmental solution that Antiplanners disagree with labeled “social engineering,” yet when the government plans result is highway building and euclidean suburban-style zoning it’s the result of free market choices of self-interested individuals?

    The term “social engineering” (used in the context above) is a cop out, used as a preemptive dismissal of an argument. Let’s leave these types of loaded b.s questions for the Fox News forums.

  4. Dan

    Thanks for using parody to restate the loony conspiracy theory into the standard ‘do nothing’ conclusion, Andrew. Its a nice chuckle in the morning.

    And one wonders if the melting statuary and building façades from historical times are worth getting rid of some cars. Existence value, again.

    DS

  5. sprawl

    bennett says:
    Why is every governmental solution that Antiplanners disagree with labeled “social engineering,” yet when the government plans result is highway building and euclidean suburban-style zoning it’s the result of free market choices of self-interested individuals?
    ————-

    Their is nothing more dangerous to planners, than individuals making choices that is best for their needs.

  6. bennett

    Sprawl,

    Highway building and euclidean suburban-style zoning has no more to do with “individuals making choices that is best for their needs,” than transit projects or smart growth. It’s top down government planning at it’s best. Your comment proves my point, that Antiplanners are bordering on delusion in thinking that highways and euclidean zoning are somehow a byproduct of the free market and not the direct result of government intervention into the free market. The fact that the “CNU model development” can’t be built next to McMansions on the housefarm wasteland is generally a result of government planning (i.e Zoning). Maybe when we all come back from lala land tomorrow we can discuss the merits of certain types of planning in specific context, but most likely you’ll still be convincing yourself that planning that results in the outcomes you prefer, somehow isn’t actually planning at all.

  7. sprawl

    The neighborhood I live in was once a farm, that was sold to a developer, that had the zoning changed so he could build the houses on my street. The grandson of the farmer that sold the land to the developer, lives 3 houses from me. The planning was done by the farmer that owned the land and the developer that developed the land and we decided to buy, what they had for sale. Because it was near a freeway and we liked how they developed the area.

    All single family homes, no apartments, or commercial zoning, because we like it that way.

  8. FrancisKing

    I should start by saying that there is a fundamental difference in the federal systems of the USA and the EU. At the time when the constitution was signed, the USA was broke and at a very great risk that Britain would reinvade, and who knows, maybe do better the next time (and indeed Britain invaded in 1812, and burnt down the White House. Which is why it is white, because they white-washed over the scorch marks). So a strong federal government was needed – just don’t mention slavery. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it…

    By contrast, the EU is about keeping together fractious nations who started two World Wars, and the second time killed 50 million people. Including 6 million Jews. Every do often, a little war of words starts. Like the time that Germany criticised Greece’s budgeting problems, and Greece reminded Germany about an incident in the Second World War, and demanded compensation. Just don’t mention the war, etc.

    So the two federal systems have different needs.

    The USA elects officials who are well known, and who are expected to take decisive action. I know, for example, that Hillary Clinton is the US foreign minister. Do you know who the EU foreign minister is? Or her role in the events in Libya? I mean, without having to look it up. In the EU, officials are selected, not elected, because the intention of the member states is that the jobs go to obscure people, who are a safe pair of hands and who fit the ration of jobs for each member state. The member states jealously guard their own national sovereignty.

    Mr. Kallas is another safe and obscure pair of hands – or, he was. His latest opinions matter very little. It is the opinions of the member states that counts. Given the difficulty in getting better options for cyclists and bus passengers, I can’t honestly see any major changes happening.

    The headline claims about petrol and diesel cars merely says that in 40 years time, more cars will be electric. With growing demand for cars, a natural turnover of cars every ten years, and an oil supply that is a bit tender right now, this is probably going to happen anyway.

    ABD, the Association of British Drivers, represents a small number of vociferous car drivers, and they do so without boring things like facts getting in the way.

    “The Association of British Drivers rejected the proposal to ban cars as economically disastrous and as a “crazy” restriction on mobility.
    “I suggest that he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum,” said Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the BDA [sic].”

    Yep, that sounds like them.

    UKIP is an anti-federal party in the UK. They also don’t like to let facts obscure their irrational rants.

    If Antiplanner is looking for a scandal to report here is one:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/8407964/Parking-permit-surcharge-to-force-diesel-cars-off-the-roads.html

    Car drivers have been advised that they should buy diesel cars because they are better for the environment than petrol cars – lower CO2 emissions and all that . Now they’ve bought them, they are being told that their diesel cars are worse for the environment, and so they will have to pay more taxes.

  9. Andrew

    Dan:

    I’m not parodying anything. Global warming is obviously nonsense.

    Again, there is no point is merely slowing the build-up of CO2 by 50% if CO2 building up in the atmosphere is going to permanently destroy the human-favorable climate we enjoy.

    If CO2 is a real problem (which it isn’t, IMHO), it needs to be removed from the atmosphere, not allowed to continue to increase merely at a somewhat slower rate.

    Lets use an analogy. Think of the frog in the pot of water being set to boil. If the temperature starts at 62F and increases 10 degrees per minute, so that the frog is going to be dead in 15 minutes, do you really think poor little froggy will live if we “cut the increase” to 5 degree per minute? Won’t he still be dead in 30 minutes?

    If we are increaseing CO2 at a rate of 2 parts per million per year and are doomed in 75 years because of it, what is the point of cutting it to 1 part per million increase per yer? Won’t we still be doomed in 150 years? Its just kicking the can down the road a bit.

    Useless and false solutions proffered to a problem imply a false problem.

  10. Andrew

    Bennett:

    I think the EU has just given a perfectly clear example of the types of ulterior motives at work here – control of movement. The implications of the various proposals given out due to global warming are a return to serfdom – no travel, no industry for the little people.

  11. bennett

    Sprawl,

    How is your example and example of not-planning? You’re proving my point again. The planning worked for you, yet you think it was not planning somehow.

  12. bennett

    Andrew,

    I’m still missing the “why” of your argument. Why is the EU trying to return to serfdom? We can, and should, discuss the merits of banning cars in Europe, but your implied denomination of the EU leaders as new era Napoleons who want to rule the world and force everyone into slavery seems a tad insane to me. I would also claim that these are exactly the types of accusations that cloud the debate on mobility. “The EU are evil overlords trying to destroy the world as we know it,” is not a good argument. “The EU is making ill informed decisions that may likely have serious consequences regarding mobility,” would be a better place to start.

  13. Craigh

    yet when the government plans result is highway building and euclidean suburban-style zoning it’s the result of free market choices of self-interested individuals?

    You’ve answered your own question. We choose, by and large, to live in suburbs or exurbs and demonstrate, every day, our preference for travel by automobile rather than train or bus. When government supports its constituents’ choices, it is not engaged in social engineering. It’s merely doing its job.

  14. Dan

    Only some choose, Craigh. You also see, with the new development patterns, people choosing to avoid large-lot single fam. There is no ‘one right way’. Unless you are for some odd reason asserting that everyone ‘chooses’ the same thing.

    DS

  15. metrosucks

    My question to Dan:

    Is there any big government/planning program you don’t support? And I don’t mean the usual leftist suspects like DOD [disclosure: I don't support the endless, bloodthirsty wars either]. I mean, how outrageous does the government edict have to be for you to not support it? Would you support a 100% ban on automobiles or a ban on any new non high density/mixed use development? A $500 million per mile light rail line? A $250 million per mile streetcar?

    I mean, it just seems that no matter how outrageous the item in question seems to be, you’re here to provide support to the government’s side and attack its opponents. Now look at bennet. He’s a planner too, but at least he’s capable of conversation and conceding points when necessary. You are not capable of either. Can you tell us why this is?

  16. Andrew

    Bennett:

    Why is the EU trying to return to serfdom?

    Because the EU is an anti-freedom organization dedicated to the control of its populations for the benefit of the elites?

    When I read about their insane regulations of minutiae of everyday living, or people in Britain subjected to fines and jail for daring to sell produce and meat using imperial measurements instead of metric, its obvious that the EU organization is run by loons who dislike the idea of independent action by free human agents interacting on their own terms.

    Why do you think countries with a long tradition of local freedom either have not joined the EU (Switzerland and Iceland), or did so against the wishes of their people (Britain)?

    Why do you think that the people are only allowed to elect the powerless European Parliament (with show elections limited to every 5 years), while the European Commission which actually makes laws is a wholly undemocratic elitist body over which they have no control?

    A free people governs itself. An unfree people is governed by an elite.

  17. bennett

    Andrew,

    It’s clear you have done more homework on the EU than I. While it contradicts my intuition, you make a compelling argument. Off the cuff, I would argue that the intentions of the EU may not be as overt as you claim, but their actions do seem to have the effects that you point out. Could it be that they’re not “trying” to return to serfdom, but just think that the ruling class knows better? Or put another way, where is the line between elitism and lordship drawn (is there a line from your perspective)?

    p.s. thanks for ignoring my many hasty typos.

  18. FrancisKing

    bennett said:

    “Andrew,
    It’s clear you have done more homework on the EU than I.”

    No, it’s not clear at all.

    “When I read about their insane regulations of minutiae of everyday living… ” Such as what?

    “or people in Britain subjected to fines and jail for daring to sell produce and meat using imperial measurements instead of metric”

    No. What happened was that the EU made a ruling which was accepted by the member countries – that all shoppers should be able to buy in metric units – litres, grams, kilograms, metres – but that all traders should be able to continue using imperial units – feet, inches, pints, pounds, etc.

    The so-called ‘metric martyrs’ decided that they couldn’t be bothered to ensure that their weighing equipment had a metric scale on it. For which they were, rightly, prosecuted.

    I think in feet and inches, pints and pounds, and I don’t have any trouble at all.

    “Why do you think countries with a long tradition of local freedom either have not joined the EU (Switzerland and Iceland), or did so against the wishes of their people (Britain)?”

    So, that’ll be a longer tradition of freedom than Britain for example, a country that entered the EU via a free and open referendum in 1973?

    “Why do you think that the people are only allowed to elect the powerless European Parliament (with show elections limited to every 5 years), while the European Commission which actually makes laws is a wholly undemocratic elitist body over which they have no control?”

    I explained that in my previous post, which Andrew didn’t read I guess.

    The EU has done a lot for Britain. Just one thing of many – in the EU every product has a two-year warranty as standard, when it used to be one year. That’s the new law. I looked at buying an Apple Macintosh computer. They were offering an extended warrant beyond the first year – in the UK. Clueless.

  19. metrosucks

    The EU has done a lot for Britain. Just one thing of many – in the EU every product has a two-year warranty as standard, when it used to be one year. That’s the new law. I looked at buying an Apple Macintosh computer. They were offering an extended warrant beyond the first year – in the UK. Clueless.

    Can you explain why you feel that a 2 year warranty period needs to be mandated by law, instead of being an option that is offered by the manufacturer?

  20. Andrew

    bennett:

    I don’t mean a literal return to serfdom, but a reduction of people back into a mode of life of similar un-freedom where they are kept distracted by their masters from getting upset about having no actual control over their lives and goods.

    FK:

    British voters in 1975 voted to continue to stay in the European Economic Community – not the EU. The actual entry into the EEC was done by the politicians 2 years ealier without bothering to ask for popular consent. The EU was not formed until 1993 by the Maastricht Treaty. The EEC was an economic free trade zone. The EU is a purported pan-national government.

    Its not hard to find articles like this one:

    http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/208589/David-Cameron-U-turn-denies-Britain-EU-referendum

    Where you find the typical sorts of statements of what European politicans think about putting constitutional measures before the public now that the realise what is afoot.

    “Leaders are petrified that any change to the EU treaties would spark referendums in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands.”

    Why should they be afraid of letting the people vote? Probably because the governments of Europe are not a polity coming from the people except in Switzerland and Iceland but something imposed from above by armed conquest of a territory, Britain included, and they uniformly fear the people gaining an actual voice. Britain only became free in the past by armed rebellions against the King resulting in the Magna Charta, Protectorate, and Glorious Revolution.

    Being satisfied with your mess of pottage is typical behavior of a serf. I hope you enjoy your two year warranties and guaranteed right to buy in metric quantities. I’d rather have free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to vote, jury trials, and the right to exist without registering my movements with the police.

    The fundemental difference between the US and EU is that the US assumes a free people who have granted certain limited specified powers to a national government which they completely control and that they retained all other rights, freedoms, powers, and privileges to themselves (9th and 10th Amendments), while the EU assumes a ruled people who are granted certain specific rights by an all powerful and theoretically unlimited government who could withdraw those rights in the future by court redefinition or changes in law.

  21. the highwayman

    Metrosucks; A $500 million per mile light rail line? A $250 million per mile streetcar?

    THWM: At that price range per mile that’s not a streetcar line, that’s a subway.

  22. metrosucks

    Well, it doesn’t really matter what it costs. You’d be in favor of a sausage on wheels, so long as they’re steel wheels on steel rails!

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