climate, inflation and rise in gasoline accelerate its decline (but do not kill it)

The automobile as we know it is becoming a extinct Object, almost like a relic from an earlier age. It is very likely that the act of sitting in a jam inside a metal object that weighs a ton, pollutes and costs a fortune be seen by future generations as something not only stupid, but also criminal, and this cultural change It has been developing at an accelerated pace in recent times.

Mary Baena, A 28-year-old nurse in Madrid, she has had a car for more than five years. Her relationship with the vehicle has changed in this time. Above all, her when making plans with her friends. “Before the pandemic, everyone asked me if we could go in my car, because I was one of the few who had one. Now the opposite happens. I offer the car and if there is an alternative, they tell me better than not, that it is not right to take it if it is not necessary & rdquor ;, he says.

the hottest summer

The factors that explain this transformation are mostly very recent. is the climate change, of course, but that used to be an ethereal argument, with which it was difficult to commune on a day-to-day basis. What happened this summer hottest in a landmark series beginning in 1961with 2.2 degrees above normal, has taken the phenomenon to a much more personal and tangible level, impossible to ignore.

Road transport involves 26.9% of all greenhouse gas emissions in Spain, with gasoline cars emitting an average of 143 grams of CO2 per kilometer. the vehicles electrical they pollute less, between 60 and 76 grams of CO2, but these only represent less than 3% of all passenger cars in Spain and they are not a panacea either. The new climate change law, passed last year, condemns cars with combustion engines, which will not be able to be sold from 2040 and will not be able to circulate from 2050. But if the generalization of electric vehicles causes citizens to drive more (and not less, as they are doing now), the change will not bring about a significant reduction of emissions.

What these cars will allow is emancipation from oil yoke. Gasoline and diesel have been chaining historical records all year, reaching at some point two euros per liter and deactivating along the way the subsidy of 20 cents in force since last April. With the cost of living increasing, due to the inflationEU countries have decided to take measures to encourage public transport, reducing their fares, as in Germany, or making several rail routes directly freecase of Spain.

plummeting sales

Sales of new cars during 2020 and 2021 fell in Spain more than 30% compared to the two years prior to the pandemic. The industry has not raised its head in 2022, with even fewer vehicles sold in its first half. But the car is still there, occupying huge urban spaces, collapsing its streets, polluting and killing, at a time when almost all major cities are taking controversial measures to limit access to their urban centers, which is where the main problem with four wheels lies.

The World Health Organization (WHO) she is worried. At the end of June, she warned that Every year around 1.3 million people die worldwide due to traffic accidents, which already represent the main cause of death in children and young people between 5 and 29 years of age. In Spain, 1,510 people lost their lives last year, 140 more than the previous one, marked by the restrictions against the coronavirus.

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All this without counting the deaths related to pollution produced by cars, a field in which spanish cities appear especially bad stops compared to their European equivalents. The prestigious scientific journal ‘The Lancet’ published in 2021 a research that placed Madrid as the city of the continent with the most deaths due to pollution caused by automobiles. Barcelona and its metropolitan area ranked sixth in this ranking, followed by Mollet del Valles.

But cars are not just dangerous and dirty. Nor do they make sense from a spatial point of view, as more and more urban planners are emphasizing, since they allow very few people to be moved and occupy too many square meters of cities, where 54% of the world’s population already lives, a percentage that it is expected to rise to almost 70% within three decades. The geometry it also contributes to ending the era of the car.


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