New Delhi’s New Car Ban A Taste Of Imposed Sacrifices To Come

A new order to impose mandatory auto cuts in New Delhi next week to cut pollution signals things to come for Western nations dragging their feet on climate mitigation efforts. Increasingly, as global warming bites, governments must impose restrictions on public health rather than incentivize, as most do now.

Delhi said it will limit cars on odd days next week to those with odd registration numbers and even days with even numbers. It’s been done multiple times there in the past few years, especially around this time in the calendar, when low winds ahead of winter combined with the city’s normal toxic mix of fumes and the added emissions from fireworks set off to celebrate the Hindu Diwali festival of light this weekend.

The economic effects will be severe, as federal authorities have already imposed cuts on public construction works and empty trucks (although the cricket matches are still on). China, which ranks up with India as one of the most polluted countries in the world, has also imposed mandatory work and commuting cuts to cut emissions. Experts have warned these cuts do more to reduce traffic than they do to cut emissions, which are already in the atmosphere.

It’s important to track these developments, especially at a time like this, when United Nations climate delegates are planning to meet in Dubai in a few weeks to discuss reducing emissions and helping poorer countries handle climate costs.

We tend to see climate change as a long-term phenomenon punctuated by brief spikes of environmental disasters that come and go. Still, in reality, it’s a slippery slope with measurable points of slippage. And the move from voluntary actions to mandatory orders is certainly one of those points.

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