Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Boris Johnson announced this week that the sale of cars powered solely by petrol or diesel will be banned from 2030. Environmentalist have been waiting for this announcement for years as a step in the right direction but the more common reaction is probably - 'how on earth is this possible'? Where will they all be charged? This is certainly a very valid question. Maybe half of homes have a drive where they could feasibly install a charging point and recharge overnight. Many recent electric car models can do over 200 miles on a single charge which is probably enough miles for, lets guess, two thirds of driver's daily usage. Long distance drivers will still need to charge at services on route, there is probably not much getting away with that. This is becoming increasing possible and rapid charging means this shouldn't take much longer than a cup of coffee, improvements in batteries will also keep increasing the maximum range. That leaves the rest of drivers that are what, scratching around at supermarkets, fighting for the space with the charger, arguing with the person in front to hurry up? The roll out of chargers will need to be massive and everyone will need to get involved. Every destination we go to, the office, the supermarket, the gym will need to have them. But that still leaves the street parking outside your friends house and in many cases, your own house or apartment that will need enough chargers that you can park there overnight or all day for that matter without someone kicking you off. Given how cramped parking is in many areas, this legislation will need lots of support at the local authority level to solve charging on top of existing parking problems, not to mention housing developers that continue to build without any thought for charging vehicles or solar panels on roofs to help provide the clean electricity to power them. Much more legislation is needed in this area. The bigger thinking though is to challenge our reliance on personally owned vehicles in the first place. If there was a smart electric taxi sharing service that cost a couple of quid for a 10 minute drive into town would you need your car in the first place? If there was an electric mini-bus every 10 minutes looping around town for free and sustainable active travels options would you not forgo the expense of a second car for the household? Given how much cheaper electric vehicles are to run (about a third of the cost of petrol and diesel) this could be possible if ambitious leaders roll out alternative solutions at scale. The good news is that once we have electric cars, we will also have clean air and of course, remove CO2 emissions from transport - the sector with the largest emissions in the UK. The Paris Agreement actually requires the UK to have zero emissions by 2030 so given the average lifetime of a car is about 8 years, this announcement still falls far short of what's actually needed. So, really, the most important question is not 'how on earth is this possible', but, 'how could we possibly not'.
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