Electric cars by 2050The European Commission says its plan to drive out ‘conventionally fuelled’ petrol and diesel cars within 40 years and replace them with ‘clean’ alternatives such as electric or hydrogen powered vehicles is necessary to save the planet.

It is vital to cut pollution and stop global warming which scientists blame on carbon dioxide (CO2) – the so-called ‘greenhouse gas’ emitted from car exhausts.

The Commission is calling for a 50 per cent shift away from conventionally fuelled cars in urban areas by 2030, phasing them out altogether in cities by 2050.

Brussels says the aim is also to achieve “essentially CO2-free movement of goods in major urban centres by 2030”.

Setting out another major goal, it adds that by 2050 Europe should “move close to zero fatalities in road transport”, with an interim target of halving all road casualties by 2020.

But motoring groups said it smacked of yet another assault on the motorist by authorities using ‘green’ measures as a smokescreen for more taxes and charges noting:’Drivers don’t know whether they’re coming or going with environmental measures’.

They also noted wryly that with soaring oil and pump prices and fuel taxes, motorists face being priced off the road anyway.

The measures could “dramatically reduce Europe’s dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050”, says the Commission.

Its key goals by 2050 are: no more conventionally fuelled cars in cities; 40% use of low-carbon fuels in aviation; at least a 40% cut in shipping emissions; and a 50% shift of medium distance inter-city passenger and freight journeys from road to rail and water-borne transport.

For longer-distance travel, and intercontinental freight, air and sea travel will benefit from “new engines, fuels and traffic management systems (which) will increase efficiency and reduce emissions”, says the document.