Like most people with a serious interest in tackling climate change, I welcome the move by the UK government to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040, but to be honest, it looks like typical empty words with a short term vision.
It is true to say green cars in themselves are greener in the day-to-day to day running as they don’t emit emissions, however, this misses some very important problems. The first major problem and misconception is in fact over emissions: the generation of the power source has to come from somewhere, so where is it coming from? Well, to put it simply, the National grid.
As things stand this network is still very heavily fossil fuel based so these emissions we are meant to be saving are now being produced by the power station. Not very green. Second major issue is that with some of the current power station planned to cope our network is very strained and as such could we cope with millions of new cars on the road. Without a full plan, we could be in for a real crisis. But let’s face it electric cars are going to be the future so we need to do more of the grid and this is something over the last 20 years we not done well.
Ok then what can we do to improve the situation? The first thing a government should be doing is creating a new grant system for Combined Heat and Power allowing all factories and work places to generate electricity from waste heat. This would reduce demand on the network and increase efficacy plus helps to provide bust to businesses by reducing costs allowing money to be reinvested back into the business. Massive investment in the removal of all landfills to be replaced by anaerobic digestion plants needs to occur across the whole country not just in local areas. We as a country need to massively step up to the plate finally and build new nuclear power plants and Tidal power
The fundamental failure in this country to tackle climate change is mainly due to our poor record on long term infrastructure planning. Cambridge has the worst air pollution of any city in the UK, this is mainly due to poor infrastructure. It has a lot of cars on it network going through too small roads right in the middle of the city. It is pure madness that it has a ring road going right through the city centre. So cars end up spending a lot of time sitting in neutral, inefficiently burning fuel kicking out emissions. Lack of electrification on the rail network along side trains that are 30 + years old also have to factor into any climate change transport debate.
As a trained green chemist I have always been taught that we have to go the source and what you find is it is the generation of the raw materials at the starting point that is the issue. To put it simply we are still over reliant on oil. Governments have underfunded research into this for years meaning we are years behind where we should be however with Brexit (yes I have to mention that word ) it is only going to get worse. It is all well and good talking about banning cars we need to have a massive investment in key areas to be able to meet up with demand, green gen power stations and greener materials without this it is pointless.