Various cities in the West have adopted "green" initiatives that might go unnoticed for the time being. One among them is carbon-free transportation through the transition from gasoline-and diesel-powered vehicles to ones propelled by electric motors.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have been in the news lately for their disastrous sales numbers despite being hailed as a beacon of hope in the fanciful battle against climate change.
In the West, governments and industries have taken great — though economically and functionally foolish — strides to promote the adoption of EVs, with the goal of achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
What governments don’t tell people is the inconvenient truth of how the reduction in emissions are easily negated by the surge in the use of fossil fuels and the related emissions in Asian countries, especially China and India.
The U.S., Canada, U.K. and EU have all set ambitious targets to replace the internal combustion engine with electric vehicles.
The EU, especially, has been aggressive with its program.
In 2022, the EU proposed a ban on the sale of combustion-engine vehicles by 2035, a deadline which faced backlash from even some of the most pro-EV Western European countries like Germany.
Nonetheless, the EU believes that the ban will go ahead as planned.
In the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed last month a target of 2030 to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars.
Across the pond, several U.S. states — like Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, and Washington — are gearing up to institute similar bans!
In 2022, California announced that it will prohibit sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has floated a new rule that would require "60% of vehicles sold in the U.S. to be battery-powered electric by 2030 and 67% by 2032."
But are these proposed bans meaningful?
Besides the highly controversial issue of whether the reduction of CO2 emissions actually would have any effect on global temperatures, there is also the largely ignored fact that such a reduction would be offset by the overwhelming increase of emissions from the use of fossil fuels in developing nations.
Oil, gas, and coal consumption continues to grow globally at the same rate it has during the past four decades.
A major contributor to this trend is China, which accounts for nearly half of all coal consumed globally.
In fact, the country plans to keep relying on coal as a primary fuel for at least five or six decades in the future.
China’s Asian competitor India will also continue to rely on fossil fuels as a dominant source until 2070, when it projects to attain so-called net zero carbon emissions — an objective that many consider impossible.
Notably, the developing nations are not satisfied with existing levels of fossil fuel consumption and have already planned to increase their use.
According to the EU, in 2021, 40% of global CO2 emissions came from just two countries, China and India.
So why should hard-working citizens of the West be robbed of access to reliable, affordable, and convenient transportation when the theoretical benefit is erased by coal-guzzling Asian giants?
Barring a massive technological advancement, there is no way the West can maintain its citizens’ current freedom of movement with EVs.
However, it is highly possible that unreliable energy and transportation systems dominated by batteries and intermittent wind and solar would lower westerners’ standard of living.
Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK.
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