Road traffic reduction seen as "impractical"

Official Dutch advisory body recommends policy shift to lower impacts through technology

Citizens cannot be separated from their cars, according to the Dutch environment ministry's official advisory body. The advisory council VROMraad said yesterday that the government should shift the focus of policy-making from reducting mobility to cutting its negative effects through technology improvements.

Growth in mobility is a fact, the council says, because "it is rooted in our economic structure". New policies are needed to deal with this, it says, aimed at tackling polluting air emissions, congestion and achieving better "habitability".

For years, the council continues, the Dutch government has tried to tackle road-related emissions and congestion by reducing mobility and directing road users into public transport. It concludes that further road transport growth is inevitable and that forcing people to use public transport is not succeeding.

Technology improvements can provide a virtually complete solution to some key environmental problems, the council maintains, and particularly polluting emissions. Despite a projected growth in private car use of 70-80% in the period 1980-2020, emissions are likely to fall by 50-90%, it says, largely due to technical innovations such as the introduction of fuel cell technology.

However, technology improvements will not be sufficient to solve some other problems, particularly emissions of the key greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The council recommends greater use of fiscal instruments such as increased fuel taxes to stimulate sales of more fuel-efficient cars.

The council recommends a halt to new road building except to relieve serious congestion. It suggests encouragement of bicycle use and car pooling and better coordination of public transport between cities. Nationally it recommends a serious study of underground transport of goods and new fiscal stimuli in favour of more environmentally friendly vehicles.

Follow Up:
VROMraad, tel: +31 70 339 4003. See also the full text of Advice on Mobility Policy, (in Dutch).

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