I got pretty excited when I heard that London was committing to buying only 100% emission-free buses for all single-decker city center routes. Likewise, when Eindhoven and Helmond bought 43 extra-long electric buses, it felt like one more step toward cleaner, greener cities.
Given that Paris, Athens, Mexico City and Madrid are pledging to ban all diesel vehicles by 2025 at the latest, the news has been pretty good for those of us who would like to see healthier air and a reduction in emissions.
Now the Financial Times reports that Swiss investment bank UBS is connecting the dots between these trends—making the bold claim that diesel cars will all but disappear from the global car market by 2025. Not only are individual cities taking up the fight against diesel, says UBS, but countries like Belgium and France are also pledging to fix disparities between gasoline and diesel taxes too. (Lower taxes on diesel have long boosted popularity in Europe.) Add this to the fact that long-range, lower cost electric cars are finally becoming increasingly viable, and that cities are exploring ways to reduce dependence on motor vehicles overall—and you really start to see a convergence of factors which should lead to diesel's demise in the passenger car market much sooner than many of us would have expected. UBS does expect diesel to continue to be used in large SUVs and trucks for now—but we'll see if even that prediction really pans out.
Even more exciting than the demise of diesel cars, to me, is the fact that this demonstrates how the broader transition to a low carbon economy will ultimately come about. Just as US utilities are pressing ahead with phasing out coal, regardless of what short-term electoral politics might look like, diesel is not falling victim to any single policy or initiative. It's simply facing a perfect storm of headwinds that will ultimately bring about its demise.
In other news, Bloomberg Technology is now reporting that for the first time ever, solar is the cheapest form of new electricity in many emerging markets—cheaper than coal, cheaper than natural gas and cheaper than wind.
Good luck coming up with a policy to halt that progress!