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The European Union is angling for climate neutrality by 2050, and in order to hit that target needs to ramp down its transportation emissions by about 90 percent. Trams — or what is known as light rail here in the U.S. — are having a moment as part of that planning. Most European tram networks were built in the first half of the 20th century, but many in capitalist Western Europe were abandoned in favor of car-centric infrastructure. In many cities, the rails are still there — it’s just a matter of funding the return to tram service. Lisbon, Berlin, and Milan are all among cities that plan to restore or expand their tram networks.
Why This Matters: Lowering emissions doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel. As Lisbon Mobility Alderman Miguel Gaspar told Politico EU about efforts in Portugal: “We’re reinforcing a system that was created over 150 years ago to service residents scattered throughout our seven hills, and which now has the added value of being a decarbonized transit option for our city.” Restoring tram lines gives people increased opportunities to navigate their cities without a car, and building new lines expands access without costing as much as an underground subway system. It also could light a path for the Biden administration’s efforts to restore or add light rail systems here to replace auto congestion in places like Seattle and Charlotte.
Tram Updates Across Europe
From Austria to Sweden, Europe has a long list of cities with tram networks.
Delegates attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow will get to see a very cool display during their stay. So cool, in fact, that it’s been frozen since 1765. Artist Wayne Binitie and scientists of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have retrieved an Antarctic time capsule containing the world’s purest air. The pocket of atmosphere was […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The European Environment Agency (EEA) found that a majority of EU countries broke at least one air pollution limit last year — despite COVID-19 lockdowns. In addition, 17 EU countries failed to stay below ozone pollution targets, which directly influence global warming; and eight EU countries failed to stay […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer An Indonesian district court ruled yesterday that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has neglected Jakarta’s residents right to clean air. In a unanimous ruling in favor of the 32 residents who brought the case, the Central Jakarta District Court ordered Widodo, and six other top officials deemed negligent, to improve […]
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