Gasoline and diesel vehicle bans became all the rage for a while a few years ago. One country after another announced plans or potential plans to stop selling fossil fuel vehicles by a certain year — 2030, 2040, 2050. (For some reason, no one picked a year that wasn’t a multiple of 10 except for Scotland, which plans a phaseout by 2032.) Some cities and states followed along — Paris and California, for example.
However, I haven’t heard much if anything about such bans for a long time. After that wave of announcements, I haven’t seen other major economies jump on board with such plans and I haven’t seen notable updates from the initial trendsetters and first followers. Well, until a news I saw this weekend out of Sweden.
Sweden now has a commission in place to work through the idea. The commission will decide on the year by which a full phaseout seems best. The commission must submit plans for the policy proposal in the coming year — by February 1, 2021. The chair of the commission is Sven Hunhammar, Director of Sustainability and Environment at the Swedish Transport Administration.
How ambitious will Sweden be? It seems the expectation is pretty high. “Sweden will be the world’s first fossil-free welfare nation,” says Minister for Financial Markets and Housing Per Bolund. “The transport sector is responsible for a third of Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases, and thus has a significant role to play in the climate transition.”
From the government of Sweden, here is exactly what the commission is supposed to do in the coming year:
- analyse the conditions for introducing a national ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, and how to exempt vehicles that run on renewable fuels and electric hybrid vehicles from such a ban;
- analyse how to bring about an EU-wide ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars and the phasing out of fossil fuels in the EU;
- make the necessary legislative proposals, albeit not in the area of taxation, where the inquiry may only analyse measures and conduct impact analyses; and
- propose a year by which fossil fuels should be phased out in Sweden, and the measures needed for this to happen in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Hopefully Sweden’s detailed progress in this regard will help the UK, France, India, Scotland, China, the Netherlands, Norway, and others to plan and implement their own gas car bans. And for the countries that are ahead of Sweden on such planning, I presume they will be critical advisors to the Scandinavian country.