Electric cars not a magic solution to climate change

Electric cars are not a magic solution to countering climate change says road safety campaigners and editor of the dogandlemon.com  Clive Matthew-Wilson.

Speaking with NewstalkZB host Nick Mills, Matthew-Wilson, a former mechanic, says in terms of solving the problem of climate change he thinks electric cars are being vastly overhyped.

Matthew-Wilson says he understands that most people rate cars as the most forms of pollution, but that a recent study ranked cars third from the bottom.

The study identified unnecessary consumer ‘rubbish’ that will be in the bin in a week is among the highest, he said.

The study published in the journal “The Lancet Planetary Health” blames pollution of all types for, globally, 9 million deaths each year.

“Pollution kills about the same number of people a year around the world as cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke combined,” the study said.

“We’re making gains in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College.

Pollution deaths are soaring in the poorest areas and industrial air pollution remains the leading cause of death in South Asia.

Lead pollution — some from lead additive which has been banned from gasoline in every country in the world and also from old paint, recycling batteries and other manufacturing — kills 900,000 people a year, while water pollution is responsible for 1.4 million deaths a year. Occupational health pollution adds another 870,000 deaths, the study said.

“Bicycles and electric cars are symbols of solutions to climate change.

“I support them both.

“But we’re not going to produce major changes simply by changing the way we move around.”

Matthew-Wilson also says the carbon footprint of electric cars is on average 40% higher than the equivalent petrol car.

“Over a period of time that gets made up for the fact that you’re not burning petrol, therefore you’re not producing pollution. But they’re not a magic solution, they’re one of a number.

One of the barriers to switching to electric vehicles is their cost.

“A lot of the essential materials for electric cars now are coming from China. China has a monopoly on the market. The Western countries are scrambling to find cheaper sources. But China has a firm policy of being the major supplier of electric cars for the planet.

He predicts prices will stay quite high for a few years at least.

A keen supporter of public transport, Matthew-Wilson says people are driving cars because they have no choice.

He also thinks New Zealand will be far better off paying to electrify the entire train system and move long haul freight off the road and that would be extremely good for the environment, for the roads and for everything.

If pushed to purchase an ‘environmentally friendly’ vehicle, Matthew-Wilson says he currently favours a hybrid rather than a solely electric one.






Additional reading

News category: Unlisted resources.