Transportation ranks 1st in terms of its contribution to atmospheric pollution, accounting for 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions. A number of leading climate scientists have advocated a blanket ban on all vehicles with internal combustion engines from 2030 onwards. This is necessary to avoid the worst effects of global warming. An electric car emits 44-56% less greenhouse gases if only driving emissions are counted. Accounting for CO2 emissions from battery production reduces this gain to 31-46%. The energy source to produce the extra electricity plays a significant role, using coal or oil would be a zero gain.
Road traffic accidents (RTAs) kill about 1.2 million people each year and injure 20-50 million people. Annual losses from road accidents are estimated at $500 billion or more. Road accidents rank 9th in the overall ranking of causes of death and 1st for the 19-29 age group. Half a million people have been killed in traffic accidents in Russia since 2000.
Mass car use is one of the causes of species extinction. Over the lifetime of the average car, the associated "loss of habitat potential" can amount to more than 50,000 m².
Mass motorization is a factor of social exclusion and forms an eco-phobic settlement pattern, contributing to the proliferation of urban agglomerations[en]. Under urban conditions the private car as a means of transport means a highly irrational use of energy and space. The real motive for its use is often not rational considerations, but "driving pleasure," that is, a mixture of sporting emotions and the joy of everyday social self-assertion. From the point of view of societal interests this kind of pleasure is far better suited to personal and club spaces rather than streets. The prevailing logic of motorization requires the removal of "obstacles" to traffic, such as pedestrians, traffic lights, cyclists, various forms of public street transport such as streetcars or trolleybuses. The results are decay of street life, degradation of the urban environment, and social exclusion. Even on relatively quiet streets, the occasional appearance of cars moving at high speed creates an impression of danger and stops children playing in the street. This leads to a reduction in contacts between adult street dwellers (especially those belonging to different generations), since such contacts often arise on the basis of looking after children.
According to many social scientists, the loss of daily pedestrian accessibility to facilities leads to the rapid destruction of local communities. The main means of reducing the impact of automobile traffic on life in cities is to reduce the amount of automobiles themselves. An example of success is Copenhagen, where since 1962 there has been a policy of reducing parking opportunities by 2-3% per year in parallel with increasing the supply of public transportation, bicycle amenities, and investing in the quality of public spaces.
Every year on September 22, World Car Free Day is held, the motto of which is "The city as a space for people, a space for life."