No More Car Ownership?


When I heard that the World Economic Forum proposed to ban car ownership, I dismissed it as left-wing nonsense that would never get far with elected officials.

But earlier this week the Scottish government announced it planned to ban car ownership as a part of its campaign to reduce per-capita driving by 20 percent by 2030.

Of course, they say such actions are needed to reduce climate change, but the truth is that a lot of people have hated automobiles for decades and are just using climate change as an excuse to carry out their vendetta against personal mobility. They also claim to care about income inequality, but the automobile did more to reduce income inequality in the 20th century than just about anything else.

Back when people were speculating about the effects of self-driving cars, many people said that would mean the end of auto ownership. But I always believed that at least half the people would continue to own cars as it would be economically efficient for them to do so, either because they traveled enough that it would cost less to own than to share or because they lived in rural areas where car sharing wouldn’t work.

That’s all a guess, though. No one was proposing to forbid car ownership. Now they are.

Meanwhile, China’s greenhouse gas emissions are several times those of the U.S., and though it promises to zero them out by 2060, no one believes it. Anyone who is serious about reducing emissions should figure out ways to reduce them in China rather than fretting about auto emissions, which tend to be declining anyway as cars get more fuel-efficient.

This piece first appeared at The Antiplanner.

Randal O'Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Photo: Nightime traffic in Shanghai, China by Robert S. Donovan via Wikimedia under CC 2.0 License.