The Netherlands is known for their green transport initiatives, which often seem quite unrealistic. Yet, many of them get realized against all odds, proving deniers wrong. Some successful examples include the SolaRoad, the currently ongoing initiative to have 100%-wind powered railway system, and even we can go further back in time to when bicycles displaced diesel vehicles somewhat over night.
A new green transportation proposal that came earlier this month, continues the trend of ambitious endeavors. The plan is to ban the sales of any vehicles, which are not fully electric, or hydrogen powered, as from 2025. All diesel, petrol and hybrid cars will be allowed on the road while their engines still work and comply with emissions regulations, but new vehicles will not be offered on the market. It might sound too good to be true, but actually the motion is supported by the majority of the MPs in the lower house of the Dutch parliament.
I guess, the idea is not so far-fetched, especially considering that EVs represent 9.6% of the current Dutch market. Only in 2015, 43,000 new EVs were purchased, while the total number of registered EVs was almost 450,000. The signs that such law could work are all there, but within a decade- it seems somehow too short.
A short personal observation. This weekend I traveled a bit along the Dutch highways in the west, and I have to admit, I was very surprised. It was Sunday afternoon and there was a traffic jam on the four-lane highway, without accidents or construction work. In general, here it is difficult to distinguish between peak and off-peak hours based on traffic on roads.
One reason is that everyone commutes to work, and tries to find a somewhat quieter time to travel. The more westwards you move, the higher your chance to get a job. Unfortunately, the prices of housing also reflect this. And another reason is that we are simply too many and our infrastructure cannot handle us all.
The result- traffic jams begin at 6-7 a.m. until 10-11 a.m., and then again from 3 p.m all the way to 7-8 p.m. What is more, trains, which are the most common alternative transport, are quite expensive, and overly full in rush hours.
So, seeing this, I cannot help it but ask- Are we there yet? I really wonder if people are ready to spend double or triple, in order to obtain an EV. Is driving going to become a ‘sport for the rich’, or do the Dutch anticipate a huge drop in EV prices? And of course the follow up question- is there going to be a better alternative for commuters? Hopefully the parliament has the answers.
Or maybe this is simply the way to go. Just like back in the 1970s, when the country restricted motorized vehicle as a measure against dying of children in traffic accidents. It worked! The Netherlands these days is a symbol and an example to follow of how cycling should look around the world. So why not do the same with electric vehicles?
In any case, the idea is wonderful, from environmental point of view. What is also true, however, is that the proposal is aimed very high. If this passes through the parliament and becomes a law, the MPs will definitely need all green supporters on their side and a very solid campaign to convince the electorate.
Image (c) David van der Mark/Flickr