Young Belgian climate truants get their scientific plan
The young Belgian truants of Youth4Climate, like Swedish Greta Thunberg protesting to do something about climate change since months every single week, finally got their scientific underpinned climate plan.
More than 100 experts contributed to the report that lists 27 specific measures for the government to take to tackle climate change in time. What they didn’t do, is calculate the total cost of this ‘masterplan’.
28 gram of meat per day
Some of the proposed measures are quite radical, like an immediate ‘concrete stop’ by preventing the further building of houses on new building lots, forbidding fuel or gas heating for homes or limiting meat consumption to 28 grams per day.
In the field of mobility, the report emphasizes three major tasks: a mobility policy aimed at a paradigm shift, promote sustainable mobility, and discourage non-sustainable movement.
Inter-federal mobility vision
For the first, an inter-federal mobility vision is needed, coördinated between all government levels. It should set well-defined goals for the mobility of persons and goods and investments focused on zero-carbon transport systems phased by 2030 and 2040.
Today mobility is a regional matter with insufficient harmony between regions. An excellent example of what can go wrong is the accessibility of Brussels from Flanders or Wallonia, the experts say.
Pedestrians first, cars last
For a real modal shift, the mobility policy should be based on pedestrians first, cyclists and public transport next and the personal vehicle in the last resort. This requires safe crossings and an elaborate bicycle network and public transport hubs in which progressively 500 million euros per year should be invested for a region like Flanders.
Investments in public transport are needed with a vision beyond 2022. City and regional public transport should get more dedicated ‘fast lanes’ with a frequency of a bus or tram every 7,5 minutes on busy lines and 10 minutes on others.
Train every 30 minutes
The train should be the spinal column of transport between major cities with trains every 30 minutes on weekdays and every hour on weekends. There should be an integrated tariff between the different public transport providers and a smooth transition to other active transport modes (shared bikes, e-scooters, and cars). Preferably all combined in a MaaS (Mobility as a Service) offering.
Stop investing in more road infrastructure like rush hour lanes on highways as they tend to attract more traffic instead of solving the problem. Stimulate car sharing and make that by 2020, 80% of all Belgians are familiar with the concept. Let local governments facilitate providers of shared mobility services in areas that are less attractive commercially today, the experts propose.
Mobi-points in every village
They can do that by creating local ‘mobi-points’ in which different transport means meet. Mobility on demand should fill the gaps where public transport fails. Financial benefits for professionally used diesel should be scrapped, and a carbon tax introduced for companies. The scientists plead to gradually abolish the current system of ‘salary cars’ and introduce a smart kilometer tax.
Owning cars and motorbikes on fossil fuels should be discouraged and phased out with taxation and sales even forbidden to reach zero-emissions by 2050 as stipulated in the Paris agreement.
Forbid sales of ICE cars by 2030
Start by forbidding the sales of new buses on fossil fuels by 2022, followed by a ban on new vans with combustion engines by 2025. By that year trains should be 100% electric too. In 2030 sales of new private cars with ICE engines on fossil fuels should be stopped, followed by trucks in 2035.
Meanwhile, a sufficient smart fast-charging infrastructure should be available by 2030, enabling battery electric vehicles to charge in 3 to 4 hours at a ‘regular’ charger and about 20 minutes at fast chargers.
Kerosene tax for aviation
Last but not least, the scientists plead for strict emission standards for marine transport and to facilitate sustainable inland shipping. For aviation, an international regulating framework is needed to lower emissions. Ticket prices should be on par with the external costs by a tax on kerosene, for instance, VAT on flight tickets as first measures states can take by themselves.
Alternatives for medium-range aircraft have to be found in railways and buses, and an international ticketing system is needed. Brussels Airport that wants to grow from 23 million passengers today to 40 million in 2040, better forgets its plans as the impact on climate and noise nuisance is not clear.
This is only a short resume of the measures proposed, and the report continues in a total of 94 pages of recommendations. It reads like an ambitious wish list, but costs are not taking into account in detail so far, is the major critic heard. It remains to be seen how much of it the next governments will adopt in their policies and how the money will be generated to create this sustainable mobility paradise.