The policy is a result of growing concern in Whitehall over the green credentials of increasingly popular diesel vehicles.
According to a report to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this month, they emit far too many small polluting particles, damaging local air quality, a persistent problem in residential areas with heavy traffic.
The report encourage the Government should encourage “small, modern petrol vehicles, petrol hybrids and electric vehicles in urban areas in place of diesel vehicles.”
“Punishing someone for owning a diesel car that produces up to 20 per cent less CO2 than the petrol version is ludicrous,” said Edmund King, the AA’s president. “Councils are plundering residents’ parking for money to balance their budgets.”
“Provided diesel cars are properly maintained there is no problem,” added Prof. Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.
The European Commission today unveiled a "single European transport area" aimed at enforcing "a profound shift in transportation patterns for passengers" by 2050.
The plan also hopes to end to cheap holiday flights from Britain to southern Europe deciding over 50 percent of all trips over 186 miles should be by rail.
First on EU's list to cut greenhouse emissions is a zero tolerance policy for the number of petrol and diesel-driven cars and lorries in cities 40 years from now.
The Brussels directives and new taxation of fuel would be used to force people out of their cars and into "alternative" means of transportation, insisted Siim Kallas of the EU transport commission.
"That means no more conventionally fuelled cars in our city centers," he said. "Action will follow legislation – real action to change behavior."
A British Drivers association called the proposal to ban cars as economically disastrous and as a "crazy" restriction on mobility.
"I suggest he goes and finds himself a space in the local mental asylum," said Hugh Bladon, a spokesman for the auto association. "If he wants to bring everywhere to a grinding halt and to plunge us into a new dark age, he is on the right track. We have to keep things moving. The man is off his rocker."
Mr Kallas denies the plan to cut car use in half over 20 years, as a prelude to a total ban in 2050, will significantly limit mobility or reduce economic competitiveness.
"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 claimed.
"The EU must be living in an alternate reality, where they can spend trillions and ban people from their cars,” stated Christopher Monckton, Ukip's transportation spokesman. "This sort of greenwashing grandstanding adds nothing and merely highlights their grandiose ambitions."
It would appear these are merely the first shots in a skirmish that is likely to play out over a number of years in Europe, but one that highlights problems we all will soon face.
Balancing the need to live productive, fulfilling lives while taking care of our families and playing steward to the planet at the same time is not a simple problem to solve – but one that simply must be tackled.
A system based upon perpetual growth on a planet of finite resources will inevitably hit a wall. The attempt to slow our headlong rush towards that sudden stop is called the sustainability movement.
Sustainable, air, water, transportation, products, viewpoints and life – that is the goal we should all embrace.
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