If you´ve ever wondered what a continent would look like without vehicles burning fossil fuels, it may only be four more decades before you see it firsthand. The European Commission, an executive branch of the EU, put forth an ambitious proposal to eliminate gasoline and diesel fueled automobiles by the year 2050 in a bid to reduce traffic congestion and drastically reduce the continent's carbon footprint. While the plan is certainly not without its detractors, what may be more pertinent to ponder is what the world would look like if fossil fuels usage continues to rise for the decades to come, unabated.According to the commission´s report, the proposal aims to create a single European "transport area" wherein conventional, emission-spewing motor vehicles are phased out and replaced with clean-running cars, all while boosting infrastructure to cater to more sustainable forms of transportation across the continent.
Cars and trucks are not the only targets of the proposed plan. The commission would like to enact a ban on the shortest flights, requiring passengers to travel by alternative methods, like trains, for distances not exceeding 186 miles.
The proposal, outlined in a white paper entitled Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area, was put forth my EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, who describes the plan as composed of "very radical, very ambitious targets."
Changing the way a continent moves doesn't come cheap: "We are talking about the necessity of investment of 1.5 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion)," Kallas said in a statement, as reported by The Independent. "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."
Not everyone is as optimistic about the proposal, however. The head of the Association of British Drivers slammed the plan, and Kallas, too. "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. The man is off his rocker."
Given current estimates and projections for future oil usage, if nothing is done to curb consumption of fossil fuels, it likely won't be an EU proposal that plunges the world back into the dark ages -- but the realities of oil as an unsustainable resource. Truth is, the European Commission's plan to dramatically alter the status quo might just be preparing for the inevitable, and helping to ensure European society survives the transition in an orderly way.
One would think that such impending oil shortages should be well-known among those denying the need for immediate action -- considering the placement of their heads in relation to the sand, from whence so much of the stuff is pumped.
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