The Netherlands may soon approve of an outright ban on new cars fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel by the year 2025. Pursuant to pending legislation, only zero emissions cars powered by batteries or hydrogen fuel cells will be permitted after 2025. Germany may not be far behind, with growing murmurs in support of a ban on conventional cars by 2030.
Heralded as a move “to save the Earth,” the ban is being promoted by the Dutch Labour Party, which currently governs the country as part of a coalition with the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy. The idea first surfaced in the lower house of the Dutch parliament, which approved it in March. Now sources say it may soon be approved by the upper chamber and will “likely become law.”
Labour Party member Jan Vos is the driving force behind the project. He argues, “We need to phase out CO2 emissions and we need to change our pattern of using fossil fuels if we want to save the Earth,” according to Yale Climate Connections.
Making the change will take more than a stroke of a legislative pen, however. “Transportation with your own car shouldn’t be something that only rich people can afford,” Vos says. In order for zero emissions transportation to be affordable to everyone, the price of alternative energy cars will have to come down considerably from where it is today.
At $35,000, the Tesla Model 3 will list for half the cost of the least expensive Model S, but that may still be beyond the reach of many new car shoppers. The theory, if you listen to Elon Musk, is that building more cars will drive the price down just as the price of personal computers tumbled 30 years ago. Another good example is high-definition televisions, which today sell for 20% or less of what they cost a decade ago.
Norway is doing the best of all European countries at getting electric cars on its roads. Today, 29% of all new cars sold in Norway are zero-emissions electric cars. But the national government provides generous incentives to promote its goal. Neighboring Sweden has few incentives and has few zero-emissions cars on its roads as a result.
Germany has an ambitious goal to reduce carbon emissions by up to 95% by 2030 but has only recently begun offering financial incentives to buyers of low- or zero-emissions cars. In total, there are about 130,000 hybrid and 25,000 electric cars in Germany, compared to a total of 30 million gasoline-powered cars and 14.5 million diesels. In the US, plug-in hybrids and electric cars still represent less than 1% of new car sales, let alone the total number of cars on American roads.
Goals are laudable, but there is a lot of hard work remaining to be done to turn them into reality.