The eco guide to Electric Vehicle hype

Don’t get spooked by the pro-fossil fuel lobby: when we abandon petrol and diesel, our whole world is going to change.

e-Car Club Nissan Leafs in Northampton (Image: T. Larkum)

When it comes to cars, I had a bit of luck this summer. No, I wasn’t loaned the new Tesla Model 3. My street underwent a pavement improvement scheme. All the parking bays were suspended and minicabs no longer idled their engines during the night. I found myself living in an accidental Low Emissions Zone. It was wonderful.

Yet despite research telling us that even very low levels of air pollution can shorten our lives, there are plans for just six Clean Air Zones across the UK by 2019. Instead, our dreams of breathable air lie with the Electric Vehicle (EV) revolution. It’s coming to save us in, um, 23 years (new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in 2040).

Can EVs really save the day? When it comes to decarbonising, yes. Growth in electric vehicles alone could save 2m barrels of oil per day by 2025. Impressive. But there are concerns over limitations of battery technology and the rare earth minerals needed to produce them.

Those who tried to save the planet last time around by buying a diesel car and have been left with a particulate-spewing monster are obviously feeling tender. At the extreme end of EV bashing is Dirty Secrets of Electric Cars, a video from a pro-fossil fuel advocacy group connected to the global-warming-denying Koch brothers. The best I can say is that it lacks imagination.

And you need imagination when buying into the promise of electric power. This is not just swapping cars, it’s about a whole new decarbonised power structure, one that takes periodic giant leaps forwards, in battery technology, in grid and storage innovation.

Read more: The Guardian

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