Could Germany, like Norway and the Netherlands, ban gas and diesel cars?

In order to meet its promise to slash emissions by 80 percent by 2050, one German government official recommends banning the sale of gas and diesel vehicles by 2030 in favor of emissions-free cars only.

Jo Yong-Hak/Reuters/File
A gas pump is seen hanging from the ceiling at a petrol station in Seoul (June 27, 2011).

Last week, we told you about plans to end the sale of gas and diesel vehicles in Norway and the Netherlands by the year 2025. Could Germany follow suit?

At least one government official hopes so, and he'd like to see it happen by 2030.

That official is Deputy Economy Minister Rainer Baake. Speaking to reporters at a climate conference in Berlin, he noted that there's been no reduction in Germany's CO2 emissions from transportation since 1990. 

In order to meet Germany's promise to slash emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, he believes that the country should end the sale of gas and diesel vehicles by 2030 and insist that all cars sold from that point forward be emissions-free. Furthermore, over the next 14 years, he proposes scaling back registrations of vehicles that use fossil fuels and encouraging consumers to switch to electrics and plug-in hybrids.

Measures like that could have a significant impact on Germany's annual emissions, as roughly 20 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas output comes from transportation.

But implementation of such a plan won't be easy. Sales of electric cars have been slow in Germany. Today, they account for roughly 0.6 percent of new vehicle sales. 

However, Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged to increase incentives for electric cars and hybrids, which could generate greater interest among shoppers. If her plan works, Germany could see sales of electrics hit 500,000 by the year 2020, and by 2025, they could account for 8 percent of the German market.

They'll still be far, far outnumbered by the 30 million gasoline vehicles and 14.5 million diesels currently roaming German roads, but it would be a start.

Our take

We can't help wondering:

  • How many other German officials share Baake's convictions?
  • Do they have the power to turn those convictions into workable plans?

If the answer to that second question is "yes", that would make three European nations on the road to banning cars that run on fossil fuels. As the wisdom goes, two is a coincidence, three is a trend. How long until that trend reaches the U.S.?

This article originally appeared in The Car Connection.

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