People should count on fossil-fuel powered cars vanishing from Prague in the future, according to Martin Bursík. The former Czech environment minister is heading up the city’s new Commission for Sustainable Energy and Climate.
Bursík founded the Liberal Ecological Party (LES) after having previously been leader of the Greens, and before that a member of several other parties. He wants to see Prague reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and become completely carbon-free by 2050.
“If a Praguer now has a car with an internal combustion engine, then it should be their last. Regular cars will have to disappear from Prague. We are in 2019, and look at the trend of automakers — even Škoda Auto is moving toward electric mobility,” Bursík said on Czech Radio station Český rozhlas Plus.
Bursík also wants Prague to follow London’s example and introduce tolls. “There has already been a transfer of people from private cars to shared cars or discounted taxis. Now they are considering adopting a Swedish model that dynamically sets the toll and distributes morning and afternoon rush hour traffic. Employers then adapt the start and end of working hours so that everyone gets to work effectively,” he added.
Prague’s recently approved Sustainable Mobility Plan would also give priority to electric vehicles, which would be exempt from tolls. Companies would transition to electric vehicles first as infrastructure is put in place, and individuals would follow.
“Prague will not be an island with electric cars, while everywhere else internal combustion engines would run Everything will be the result of many consultations. It will certainly be a very sensitive topic, but Prague cannot ignore it,” he added.
Currently, though, coal is still a big source of electricity in the Czech Republic, and as a result electric cars are not as clean as they might be. The current government led by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has not made the environment a priority. Bursík said he was looking forward to the future when a new government would adopt clean energy goals in line with EU policies.
Bursík added that by 2030, an estimated 80 percent of buses sold worldwide will be electric, and investments will have to be made in electric vehicles and charging stations.
He says that when he first began promoting environmental issues, he was seen as a Don Quixote, and the environment was a marginal topic. Now it is in the mainstream and being taken seriously.
Bursík was environment minister twice, in 2007–09 under Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and in 1998 under Prime Minister Josef Tošovský. In 2007–09 he also served as deputy prime minister. In November 1989, he was one of the founders of the Civic Forum, after having been an activist before the Velvet Revolution.