France and the United Kingdom plan on banning the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040 to decrease air pollution, but that’s not fast enough for major cities with poor air quality and significant public health problems. Paris wants to remove gas and diesel cars from the road ten years ahead of schedule by 2030 and, on the other side of the Channel, there are similar plans in London and Oxford.
While outright bans might seem excessive, air pollution in European cities has reached dangerous levels. Toxic particulates in the air can cause chronic asthma and pneumonia, especially in children and the elderly. Researchers estimate that tens of thousands of people die each year from health problems associated with air pollution. Paris has already been forced to impose temporary bans during days with low wind or high pressure due to surges in pollutants.
The city government wants to speed-up any emissions ban in large cities ahead of the national roll-out in 2040. In the United Kingdom, London and Oxford are pursuing similar plans. London will establish an ultra-low emissions zone in 2020. Petrol and diesel vehicles will pay daily charges to enter the city center. Oxford has proposed a strict Zero Emission Zone that bans traditional vehicles from driving on six streets in the historic city center. The first phase of the plan removes taxis, cars, light commercial vehicles, and buses. The zone will expand to include more streets and vehicles, including trucks, by 2035. If you have an electric car, Oxford will introduce reduced parking fees. That’s a nice incentive, but it won’t solve congestion or traffic problems in larger cities.
Paris and London will need to scale up public transit if they want to lock out drivers. Let’s just say automakers need to work fast to develop zero-emission vehicles for consumer and commercial users.