Should diesel and petrol cars be banned?

One country after another is making moves to ensure that diesel and petrol engines become a thing of the past: Paris, Madrid, Athens and Helsinki plan to ban their production by 2025, with London following suit in 2040. In Germany the cartel scandal that has hit the automotive industry has added fuel to the debate. But commentators see bans as the wrong approach for various reasons.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Arrogant and unworldly

The end of a technology should not be ordained by politicians, the Süddeutsche Zeitung argues:

“A legal ban, particularly one with a deadline set for a certain year, is not just presumptuous but also unrealistic. Politicians who doggedly pursue this goal are putting their energy into the wrong cause and at the wrong time. Without doubt the fuel of the future will be alternative - but this process will take time. … No one knows precisely what the future of the car will look like. Judging by past experience it could be a mixture of everything: electric, hybrid, gas and probably also petrol and diesel. In view of the complexity of the situation a ban would send the wrong signal entirely.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Don't fight the wrong battle

Ireland's Greens are calling on their country to ban diesel and petrol-driven cars even sooner than the UK, which plans to introduce the ban in 2040. This goal is unrealistic, the Irish Examiner warns:

“On the face of it, following the UK lead would assist us in reducing our reliance on fossil fuels but only if the electricity used is itself generated from clean energy. … A more achievable target would be to electrify all mainline rail which currently runs on diesel and implement fully the Government’s target, as set out in the National Mitigation Plan, that all new sales of vehicles will be electric after 2030.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Environmental protection not just for the rich

In the heat of the debate one must not forget that green mobility must also be cheap, De Telegraaf warns:

“Today's vehicles are worsening the quality of the air. Moreover, fossil fuels will at some point run out. But we could use the current reserves more effectively if we developed cars that use far less petrol or diesel. There are several approaches that will lead to a more environmentally friendly and economic fleet of vehicles. What really matters is that broad swathes of the population are in a position to get from A to B for an affordable price. There are plenty of expensive solutions for environmental and energy problems. Now the car industry must come up with alternatives for the masses.”