Something is rotten in the state of Denmark … and it’s heading this way

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Denmark has just proposed banning the sale of new gas- and diesel-powered vehicles in 2030, becoming the eleventh country to propose banning the sale of vehicles with internal-combustion engines (ICE). Seven of those countries—including France, Ireland and the Netherlands—also plan to implement their bans by 2030, while Germany, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have called for bans starting in 2040.

It’s not just countries proposing bans. California is considering legislation that would ban the sale and ownership of gasoline-powered vehicles by 2040. And seven other U.S. states and Québec have vowed that by 2050 all new cars must have zero tailpipe emissions.

And major cities around the globe are banning the use of ICE vehicles within all or part of their city limits. Eight cities—including Paris, Madrid and Mexico City—are banning diesel-powered vehicles starting as early as next year. Meanwhile, London and Hamburg, Germany, have already imposed partial bans on diesel-powered vehicles. (Stuttgart’s partial ban goes into effect next year.)

More than two dozen cities around the globe—including Los Angeles, Seattle and Tokyo—have signed the Fossil Fuel Free Streets Declaration, pledging to buy only zero-emission buses by 2025 and “ensuring a major area of our city is zero emission by 2030.”

A comprehensive overview of these bans and restrictions can be found here, here, and here.

It would be bad enough if these bans and restrictions were just spontaneous eruptions of short-sighted pandering among political leaders worldwide. But the driving force behind these proposals is far more insidious. These bans and restrictions—and the many more that are sure to follow—are all part of the master plan of creating the New Climate Economy that was unveiled in San Francisco last month at the Global Climate Action Summit.

According to the New Climate Economy blueprint for “Building Thriving, Low-Carbon Cities,” these bans are just a few of many “low-carbon transportation measures” designed “to avoid, shift and improve transportation activity.”

Specifically:

Avoid strategies aim to reduce the need for travel and the length of trips [through policies] that create compact cities and bring people closer to their work and leisure activities, so they need to drive less or not at all.” Chief among those polices: “property taxation policies designed to encourage greater density.”

Shift strategies encourage people to use public transit, walk or bike instead of driving, and make it easy and convenient to do so.” Among those strategies: “Revise tax policies” related to using a car for business purposes (e.g. eliminate vehicle use tax deductions), increase “parking fees and congestion pricing,” and implement “policies the that increase costs of private-vehicle operation.”

Improve strategies aim to optimize vehicle efficiency within a particular mode and to make transportation infrastructure more efficient; for example, clean vehicle incentives and mandates can encourage consumers to buy hybrid or electric cars.” And if the incentives and mandates still don’t work, “standards can be applied to existing cars—for instance, requiring scrappage of highly inefficient vehicles.”

That’s right. If you can’t be incentivized to get rid of your ICE car and buy an EV, the New Climate Economy recommends policies that allow the state to simply take it away from you. And, if you need to learn more, “The United Nations Clean Fuels and Vehicles Regulatory Toolkit provides examples of these different options to improve vehicle and fuel efficiency,” according to the blueprint.

What’s lost in this global effort to impose a “new world order” over our vehicle choices is that any attempt to ban the most reliable, efficient, and affordable engines that hundreds of millions of people rely upon will only drive up prices, stifle innovation, and inevitably further burden low-income families.

Draconian ICE bans certainly circumvent the need to convince people to share activists’ perspective or develop competitive zero-emissions vehicles, but that hardly makes them a good idea.