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Wheels of change

March 28, 2011

The European Commission wants cities to be free of traditionally fuelled cars by 2050, as part of ambitious plans for transportation. It would require investment of around 1.5 trillion euros.

Car with petrol pump
Half of petrol cars would be phased out in cities by 2030Image: Fotolia/Phototom

Europe's cities could be free of petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars by 2050, under "very radical, very ambitious" targets set out by the European Commission.

Plans for the future of road, sea and rail networks in Europe were set out by EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas on Monday. The 'Transport 2050' strategy aims to cut the EU's carbon emissions by 60 percent and create a 'Single European Transport Area' with fully integrated transportation networks.

Move to green vehicles

Kallas said his vision included "close to zero fatalities" on Europe's roads, and "zero" cars fuelled by diesel or petroleum in cities. The car phaseout would be in two stages, with half of conventionally-fuelled cars to be removed by 2030, then fully by 2050. The Commission said alternatives like electric-powered cars would be promoted.

Traffic jam in Belgium
The EU plans a move away from road transportationImage: picture alliance/dpa

"We can break the transport system's dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility," Kallas said. "It can be win-win."

Half of all intercity passenger and freight transport would be by rail or waterways.

Other key targets are for 40 percent use of sustainable low carbon fuels in aviation and a cut in shipping emissions of at least 40 percent.

Costing trillions

The transport commissioner defended the plans as "realistic," despite the projected huge cost.

"We are talking about the necessity of investment of 1.5 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion)," Kallas said.

He admitted the big problem would be making the targets binding, as the plans are not currently reinforced in legislation.

Acknowledging that public resources will be increasingly limited, Kallas said there would have to be further involvement of the private sector. "It's a huge challenge," he said.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler