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Are SUVs The Scourge of the Streets?

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo is putting that question to citizens in February, said The Associated Press, "the latest salvo in her long-running campaign to make the city more friendly to pedestrians and the planet, and less friendly to cars".

Range Rover

Voters will be asked whether to impose a "very significant" increase in parking fees for SUVs visiting the city. SUVs are "dangerous, cumbersome and use too many resources to manufacture", Paris's deputy mayor for public space and mobility policy said.

He also tweeted that SUVs in Paris are “An absurdity! These vehicles are useless in town and more dangerous.”

The European Transport Safety Council called for a ban on SUVs in populated areas after a Land Rover crashed through a London school fence in July, after which two children died. "Do people need two-and-a-half-tonne vehicles to take their children to school?" asked a spokesperson.

The popularity of SUVs has risen sharply in recent years, and now totals around 330 million worldwide. Today, SUVs make up almost half of global car sales, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), despite other car sales falling.

The problem is starkly illustrated by the fact that if SUVs were a country, they would rank as the sixth most polluting in the world. And buying an electric version isn't really a good solution either. IEA experts say: “Electric SUVs require larger batteries to power them, so a growing electric SUV market would impose additional pressure on battery supply chains and further increase demand for the critical minerals needed to make the batteries.”

Some experts, like economic historian and degrowth expert Matthias Schmelzer, have called for an outright ban on non-essential SUVs, reports Ecowatch. He pointed to a recent Financial Times article finding that SUVs and light trucks now made up four fifths of U.S. car new sales.


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