Saturday, 15 June 2019

Electric Vehicles are not the answer - we need a more radical solution

We all know that driving a traditional diesel or petrol car releases CO2 that contributes to Climate Change.  These cars also release pollutants that can be damaging to our health.  Many countries are pledging to phase out the production of diesel vehicles urging the car drivers to switch to electric vehicles.  But are electric cars always the greenest option or should we be concentrating on a different approach altogether?  Whilst electric vehicles undoubtedly produce less CO2 when being driven they are far from being as environmentally friendly as you might think.  For that reason I believe that we should we actually be pushing for a massive reduction in overall car ownership because the negative effect that all cars have on the planet goes far beyond the CO2 they emit whilst being driven.

We need a more radical solution than witching to Electric Vehicles

Let's start with manufacturing a car.  It is estimated that the manufacture of a car will release between 2000kgs and 3250kgs of CO2 emission.  This is true of both electric and traditional cars.

Then driving a traditional car for 10,000 miles (16,000kms) will release approximately 2400kgs CO2.  However it is not only CO2 that is released when driving a car - there are pollutants in the exhaust fumes and tyres give off micro-plastics as they wear down, polluting waterways.

You cannot drive a car without all the associated infrastructure of the road network, which will all emit CO2 when being built and maintained.   This includes roads, bridges, tunnels etc as well as all that goes with them - crash barriers, road paint, noise abatement walls, traffic lights, signage, speed cameras, car parks, filling/charging stations, service areas, drainage etc etc.  Car owners will also buy cleaning products and car accessories.  We also need to take into account the secondary environmental costs of illnesses caused by pollution from manufacturing and driving vehicles and injuries from accidents caused by them.  Plus there is the loss of habitat where new roads are built/widened as well deaths to wildlife on our roads.

Finally, once a car is finished with what happens to it then? Energy is needed to recycle parts and the remainder ends up in landfill.

Estimates calculate that there are around 1.2 billion cars, worldwide. If we took those 1.2 billion cars and switched them all to electric vehicles you'd be looking at adding around two trillion kgs of CO2 to the atmosphere simply from their manufacture and that's without any work being done on expanding or maintaining the road infrastructure or disposing of all the old diesel/petrol cars.  This is why I do not believe we should not be simply thinking about switching from a traditional car to an electric one but we should be thinking about switching to NOT OWNING CARS AT ALL and living in a world where everyone travels considerably less than at present.  

To do this we need to develop a much larger, more efficient and cheaper public transport network and support initiatives such as allowing employees to work from home, use video links for meetings etc etc.  We need to go back to smaller and more local shops, schools etc putting all these within easy reach of most people by foot or bicycle.  Some people need cars for their jobs and for those living in rural areas it is hard to survive without a car but for many people, with good alternative systems in place they would not need a car and could use car sharing/pooling/leasing when absolutely needed. And for those who currently insist that they do need a car either for their job, because of disability or because of where they live, we really need to stop making excuses and start looking for car free solutions. I don't have the answers but I am sure they exist, if only Governments and people would be willing to alter their lives to use them.  

I realise asking people to get rid of their cars is not going to be popular.  Cars have become an integral part of our lives and we value the freedom they give us. But this freedom is not sustainable and just switching a traditional car for an EV whilst keeping as many cars on the planet is not the solution.  We really need to drastically reduce down the number of all cars.

What do you think - how easy would it be for you to give up your car?  Could you start by reducing how much you use it and use ways to drive more efficiently?

We need a more radical solution than switching to Electric Vehicles

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  1. I like the idea, but I can’t see it ever being feasible if I’m honest.

    For example, I work 6 miles from home, not far at all but from school drop off to work start time I have 20 minutes. And the same at the end of the day to the end of school.

    I could not do that 6 mile journey in less than 20 minutes by bus. Plus the bus is expensive.

    The only way around it would be to pay £20 in childcare and £5 plus a day in bus fare.

    I don’t have a spare £125 a week to allow for not having a car.

    I’d love to save our planet but I think it’ll take a lot more than banning cars to do it.

  2. What an interesting idea. Where I live in Leeds they are making HUGE strives to help get pollution down to make it a greener place.

  3. It is a tricky one, I try and walk whenever possible and even get buses. I do find the car is a necessity sometimes. But agree something radical needs to change.

  4. Whilst I am not totally against the idea i am struggling to see how it work especially for areas like mine where public transport is not so good.

  5. I try to walk to work if I can and limit how much I use the car but it can be hard to manage without it some day.

  6. We certainly do cause a lot of consumption, and it is frightening. I hardly use the car now I'm at home with the little one, as we like to get out with the pushchair if we can. It is handy for things like the food shop though, and to know it's there for emergencies. Xx

  7. I couldn't agree more. Electric vehicles seems to be helpful in our environment these days but they never considered the years coming. I love your suggestions of developing a much larger transportation service.

  8. I agree on the public transport service but I have to disagree on not owning a vehicle. It might be possible in areas where you live or with a a different lifestyle but it's impossible here. Having said that, I'm choosing to walk an hour and twenty minutes for 2 children's two different drop off times and that's not calculated the extra routes to classes and therapies. We drive as little as we can - but we need a vehicle for a lot of different reasons. I believe electric vehicles are a step forward on the way of development. We won't jump from diesel cars to zero emission vehicles.

  9. Public transport would need to improve massively for us to ever even consider losing our car. Our local train services are appalling. Plus I have two kids in a school in one direction, my daughter in nursery in another and then I carry on to work so I'd be a bit stuck without my car. I'd never get to work on time!

  10. I still drive a car but I hate it :(
    I have a lot of family that live in the South East and we're in the South West so I need my car to visit them. Public transport would take forever and cost me a small fortune, especially if I had the kiddies and dog with me.

    We are moving house next month though and it's closer to the kids school so we can walk everyday which is going to be great! As I work from home I'll only really use my car once a week for the food shop and then when I travel to see family which is about twice a year.

    One thing we did do though is get a much smaller car with is more eco-friendly than my last car. Ideally' I'd love to get an electric one but they are just too expensive.

  11. I never had a car and that's working fine for me. If living remotely, that's however different. I think we need a more varied approach - it should be possible to live without cars in a city where most pollution is caused from cars and commuting. It is for the non-repetitive trips that we need cars and electric cars may well be the answer here... #goinggreen

  12. Cost wise for us, we would probably not opt for an electric car at the moment. There are limited places to charge them, they are expensive to buy and we don't have our own parking space that we could set up to charge. I don't drive as it is, so it would be a bit of a waste. I use public transport and so do the kids, being in London it's fairly easy. Our car is older and will beed to be replaced but we only use it for travelling or when we are going where transport can't take us so we don't feel too bad about it. Car shares are also not easy here, although I know they happen. I do use Uber Share Rides when I need to go somewhere if I can. I don't think electric cars are an answer, more of a trend people are grasping.
    #goinggreen for July