Europe has acquired a noxious American habit : the Sports Utility Vehicle. A third of new cars sold in Europe are now SUVs. The parents of school kids in my street in east London all seem to have a Nissan Qashqai or BMW X5 parked outside their house. Once, when small cars filled our roads, we Europeans enjoyed a sense of ethical superiority over Americans, with their heavy postwar gas guzzlers. Indeed, in the mid-1970s they decided to copy us and downsize.

But with the dawn of the SUV, US cars piled on the pounds again, and in two decades CO2 emissions from US vehicles rose by 11%. Now the same is occurring here: thanks to the SUV, average vehicle CO2 emissions in Europe rose by 2% last year. Indeed, the International Energy Agency says the world’s 200 million SUVs (China has gone big on them too) are among the largest contributors to a rise in global emissions. With their high seats and greater sense of security, it’s easy to see the lure of SUVs. Carmakers love them too: they sell at wider margins than small cars. But for the planet’s sake, they are a habit we must shake.  (John Gapper,  Financial Times. & The Week, 15 Nov 2019)

My comment:  I live in a spot where parking can be difficult.  Visitors arrive here,  stay sometimes all day in a 2 hour parking zone  and are seldom fined for over- staying their allotted time.  We therefore have one of the smaller  cars ( a Honda FIT) available.  I wish I could say that we were thinking of the environment when we bought it; alas, we were thinking of the parking and the tiny spaces left to us.  I feel a bit better about it because my wife and I walk everywhere possible, and that’s partly for fear of losing a parking spot.  Silly, one’s priorities, aren’t they?


One Comment

  1. I suggest three solutions. Tax SUVs so high, only the very wealthy would want to buy one. Generously subsidise electric cars, including electric SUVs. And invest more in a public transport system in cities where the population density is high enough for public transport to be viable.

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