Monday, May 13, 2013

British Cities May Have to Ban Cars?

Metropolis of Tomorrow

A Real Life Car-Free Utopia?

“The UK faces European fines and British cities may have to ban cars to dramatically reduce harmful effects of air pollution”. The key word here is “may”, because British cities also may not have to ban cars. But what if?

This “what if” scenario is the result of the UK government failing it’s legal duty on air pollution. Normally this is unsurprising because most cities and countries will set lofty goals with very little mandates or enforcement. Metro’s GHG goal is to “reduce direct and indirect emissions to 80 percent below 2008 levels.” In some cases, cities will have insufficient data such as criticisms made against the Greenprint Denver plan that measures emissions only in the central city and not the suburban areas. That’s not the case here as the UK’s supreme court has recently ruled that the government has failed to meet European air pollution limits. This is the first time a court has recognized a government’s failure to comply with air pollution limits and puts British cities in a vulnerable position.

What exactly the European commission will do is hard to determine at the moment, but whatever action they do take will have serious implications for the rest of the European countries. The European commission could begin taking legal action immediately by imposing stiff European fines on cities. Or the European commission could also wait for the court of justice of the European Union to clarify a number of legal questions from the UK ruling before moving forward; it’s estimated this could take up to a year. The bold move would be if they begin imposing fines now, which will send a message to all other European countries that this is being taken seriously and can drastically change how GHG reduction plans are administered. The “play-it-safe” move, which I would venture will be the case, is that the European commission will be conservative and wait for the legal clarifications from the EU before proceeding with any action. This will provide an opportunity for opponents of the ruling to overturn it and continue on with business as usual.

But what if the European commission begins levying fines against impinging British cities and British cities undertake radical measures to reduce greenhouse gases? The first idea, and sound byte for the article, is to ban cars in cities. London managed to pull off congestion pricing around the city with great success, which leads me to believe with a significant amount of effort they could possibly do this too. However, I think it’s more likely to see brilliant innovations that reduce GHG emissions before we see cars banned. Either way, it’s a win for the environment.

Proofread by Brett Lezon

1 comment:

  1. I doubt there will be an outright ban on automobiles. Maybe more policies will be put in place to reduce VMT, but that's the most I can see being done.


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