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Cities Around the World Work to Make Quitting Cars Popular – BBC

By India Bourke

"There is a war against cars in America," a popular right-wing YouTube channel declared in 2017. The short film argued that tighter emissions standards made gas-powered cars more costly, and were part of a wider push to get people out of their individual vehicles and onto public transportation. "So much for the freedom of the open road," the video lamented.

The views raised in the video were not new, or limited to the US. Accusations of a "war" had been circulating in the UK 15 years previously, as London prepared to introduce what was then the world's largest congestion charge scheme, requiring drivers to pay for city-centre journeys. More recently, the city's expansion of its Ultra-Low Emission Zone (or Ulez), which also charges cars that don't meet certain emissions standards, has seen "Blade Runner" protesters tear down enforcement cameras. In the Belgian city Ghent, the deputy mayor received death threats in the wake of a 2017 plan to discourage short journeys by car.

Despite the ongoing pushback, cities around the world are continuing efforts to reduce traffic and improve air quality by encouraging drivers to switch from polluting cars to greener transport. Paris has a target to ban gas-powered cars by 2030, citing the need to tackle climate change. And, later in 2024, New York is set to conduct a first-in-nation car-reduction experiment: the launch of a long-delayed congestion charge on journeys below Manhattan's 60th Street.


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