Moves to ban sales of new oil-fueled vehicles ignore costs

Sept. 29, 2017
Governments suddenly are racing to ban vehicles fueled by oil products.

Governments suddenly are racing to ban vehicles fueled by oil products.

The UK and France want to prohibit sales of vehicles that burn gasoline or diesel by 2040—the former to cut air pollution and the latter to combat climate change.

Norway has a transportation plan calling for all new passenger cars and vans to yield no emissions by 2025.

In India, with its heavily polluted cities and rapidly growing fleets of cars and trucks, government officials have suggested that all new vehicles sold in the country be powered by electricity by 2030. China might prohibit sales of vehicles that run only on fossil fuels.

After Germany’s recent election, Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union must try to form a coalition with the business-oriented Free Democratic Party and Green Party. The CDU’s former coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, joined the opposition.

The FDP opposes Germany’s green-energy program because of the cost, while the Greens demand more renewable energy and a ban on diesel engines by 2030. Should be fun.

At least eight other countries have targets for sales of electric cars, and several US states have set or are considering similar goals.

All this serves the campaign by environmental extremists to thwart production and use of oil and gas regardless of the foresworn wealth. Governments don’t care if unpopular companies lose value.

But the proposition has another dimension destined to become political backlash.

In a Sept. 26 blog post, Peter Tertzakian, executive director of ARC Energy Institute of Calgary, notes that more than 1.2 billion vehicles powered by internal combustion engines are on the road today.

At an average worth of $20,000/vehicle, aggressive fleet turnover would affect vehicle ownership worth $20 trillion.

“Who will compensate car owners for trillions of dollars of devalued capital stock?” Tertzakian asks.

Government officials should have to address that question at the same time they explain how power can remain affordable as demand zooms from the forced electrification of road transport.

(From the subscription area of, posted Sept. 29, 2017; author’s e-mail: [email protected])