The UK has rejected proposals from the EU which call for a ban on petrol and diesel cars from city centres by 2050, reports BBC News.
Outlining plans for a ‘Single European Transport Area’, the European Commission said there needed to be a ‘profound shift’ in travel patterns, and phasing out ‘conventionally fuelled’ cars from urban areas would cut reliance on oil and help cut carbon emissions from transport by 60% by 2050.
But Norman Baker, UK transport minister, said the Commission should not be ‘involved’ in individual cities’ transport choices, adding: "We will not be banning cars from city centres anymore than we will be having rectangular bananas."
As part of the plans, the Commission also wants half of ‘middle distance journeys’ between cities – above approximately 186 miles – to shift from road to rail.
Siim Kallas, EC transport commissioner, said these moves need not inconvenience people: “Freedom to travel is a basic right for our citizens. Curbing mobility is not an option. Nor is business as usual.
"The widely-held belief that you need to cut mobility to fight climate change is simply not true. We can break the transport system’s dependence on oil without sacrificing its efficiency and compromising mobility."
Announcing a series of ‘challenging’ targets, Mr Kallas said there should be a 50% reduction in conventionally-fuelled cars in city centres by 2030, disappearing altogether 20 years later. The Commission also hopes to ‘move close’ to eliminating deaths by road accidents by 2050, halving current fatality rates by 2020.
Norman Baker concluded: "It is right that the EU sets high-level targets for carbon reduction, however it is not right for them to get involved in how this is delivered in individual cities.
“We are committed to decarbonising road transport by, for example, investing more than £400m over the next four years to support electric vehicles and promoting alternatives to car travel like walking and cycling."
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