A good two-thirds of citizens in Europe would like to see the end of petrol and diesel cars. Environmental zones and the e-car boom seem to be causing a change in thinking, with more and more people wanting to live in clean and quiet cities with green spaces and car-free zones.
According to a study by the environmental organisation Transport & Environment (T&E) with over 10,000 people in 15 major European cities, it is not only politicians who are longing for an end to combustion cars. The majority of citizens are also calling for a switch to greener mobility. On average, 63% of those surveyed are in favour of an end to internal combustion vehicles by 2030. 29% were against it and 8% had no opinion on the subject.
Approval was highest in the major southern cities. The leader is Rome with 77%, followed by Barcelona and Milan with 73%. In Birmingham, England, 67% also voted in favour, in London 65%. In Paris it is 61%. Approval is also high in Eastern Europe: in Budapest it is 72%, in Warsaw and Krakow 60%. In Germany, more than half of the citizens surveyed are still in favour of phasing out internal combustion vehicles. However, with 52% approval in Hamburg and 51% in Berlin, the proportions are less clear than in many other European cities.
The e-car boom could make the citizens' wish a reality sooner than previously thought. According to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), more than half of the world's new cars will be electric by 2026. Only 47% of new cars will then be petrol or diesel vehicles. In 2030, BCG predicts a market share of only 11%. Nevertheless, BCG fears that the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement could be missed by the transport sector, as the existing combustion engines will still be on the roads for a long time.
The T&E study shows that many people in cities want to get rid of noisy and dirty internal combustion vehicles. Even in cities where many car-free zones already exist, citizens support the idea, for example in Barcelona and Paris. This shows that proper concepts away from cars can work and that the change triggers a rethink among citizens.
In Germany, the support is much less than in other countries. Perhaps a rethink can only take place when people experience the benefits of traffic-calmed zones for themselves. They already exist on Friedrichstraße and in the Wrangelkiez in Berlin. In Hamburg, a citizens' initiative wants to make an entire district virtually car-free.
Politicians in Germany should listen to the citizens and also look to other countries to implement the wishes of the - albeit narrow - majority. A first step would be to tighten up the rules of the environmental zones with regard to alternative combustion vehicles and to set up more car-free zones. In this way, greener and healthier cities could also be created in this country.