‘Courageous’ politician vs cars. Cars win. The Netherlands 1989…

So, I just read this.  I haven’t double-checked it yet, by the author is a damn fine journo/thinker/historian

It’s from a story about an(other) attempt to reduce the damage caused by cars in Los Angeles.

Last month the centre-right coalition Government of Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers came up with a comprehensive plan to keep the country habitable into the 21 st century.
In addition to ending production of chlorofluorocarbons, the plan aimed to cut Dutch energy consumption in half in order to curb carbon dioxide emissions and slow the greenhouse effect. After all, if the icecaps melt and the seas rises, most of the low-lying Netherlands could be inundated.
The heart of the plan was directed against automobiles, which account for 80 per cent of Dutch air pollution. Lubbers was proposing to halt all new road-building while investing $A10 billion a year in public transport, and meanwhile to tax the stuffing out of car-owners.
His new taxes were designed to add 50 per cent to the cost of buying and running a car — and his goal, about which he was perfectly frank, was to reduce the number of cars on Dutch roads from five million to 3.5 million. Overall, he was aiming at reducing pollution by between 70 and 90 per cent by the year 2010.
But Lubbers headed a coalition Government in which his own Christian Democrats relied on Liberal support for their majority, and even in the tidy, socially responsible Netherlands there are lots of people who reckon car ownership is a freedom as fundamental as freedom of speech. A lot of those people vote Liberal (which, in the Netherlands, really means conservative).
THE LIBERALS initially went along with the Lubbers plan, but they panicked when threatened by revolt among their own supporters. So they brought the Government down in order to preserve tax deductions for people who use their cars to commute, and now everything is on hold until the Netherlands gets a new government.
Dyer, G. 1989. California leads in fighting pollution. The Canberra Times, 29 May, p.8.


Update – So, the plot thickens –

Lubbers won the subsequent election, and the Liberals lost seats….


And here’s the New Scientist on another bite at the cherry two years later.another bite at the cherry two years later...

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