Article 33

Knowledge Versus Belief In Response To Problems Identified By Political Parties.

With Article 32 having shown that knowledge ought to replace belief in party-specific policy-making, this Article shows that this replacement ought also to be applied to the delivery of such policies, and having shown in article 28 that knowledge has been ignored in respect of the formulation of belief-only policies respecting anthropogenic global warming, I now show that knowledge is also being ignored in respect of response to this belief-only problem. My reference press-article, on this occasion, is one by Bjorn Lomborg, entitled ‘Don’t expect electric cars to save the planet’, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph of 18/11/20 under the sub-title ‘Banning petrol and diesel vehicles would deliver only minor emissions savings at a vast cost to consumers. It opens by stating that ‘in a move to burnish Britain’s green credentials, Boris Johnson is to announce a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030’; that in doing so, ‘he is following other political leaders, including Joe Biden, in promising lavish carrots to energise the market for electric cars’, in the belief that ‘this will reduce anthropogenic global warming’;  that, ‘unfortunately electric cars will deliver only tiny emission savings at a very high price’; that ‘they cost more over their life-times than their petrol counterparts’; that ‘this is why subsidies are needed’; that nonetheless, ‘consumers are put off by the vehicles’ short ranges and long charging times’; that ‘despite the US offering up to $10,000 (£7,600) for each electric car, fewer than 0.5 percent of the nation’s carsare battery electric’; that ‘almost all the handouts go to the rich’; that ‘some 90 percent of electric car owners also own a fossil fuel car’; and that ‘indeed electric vehicles are mostly a “second car” used for shorter trips and virtue signalling’.

He  admits, however that ‘if electric cars are subsidised enough, people will buy them’; that ‘almost 10 per cent of all Norway’s passenger cars are electric, thanks to generous policies which waive most costs’; that ‘over its lifetime a £23.000 car might receive benefits worth £20,000; but that ‘this approach is unsustainable for most nations’; that ‘even Norway is starting to worry, subsidised drivers (already) cost the country more than a billion euros a year’. (I would ask, how this will be sustainable when all cars are electric and the market for Norway’s oil exports collapses?)  Again, he admits that ‘innovations will (I would say might) make electric cars economic even without subsidies’ but that ‘concerns over range and slow charging will remain’; and that ‘scientific projections do not predict that electric cars will take over the world’; that ‘a new study shows that by 2030, just 13 per cent of new cars will be electric’; that ‘if new petrol cars are banned by then, this will prevent 87 per cent of consumers from buying the cars they want’; and that this ‘hardly seems politically viable’.

At this point in his article, Bjorn Lomborg quotes the International Energy Agency (IEA) when he says that ‘it estimates that by 2030, if all countries live up to their promises, the world will have 140 million electric cars on the road’; but that ‘this would not make a significant impact on emissions for two reasons’. The first is that ’electric cars require large batteries which are often produced in China using coal-power’; that ‘the manufacture of one electric car battery releases almost a quarter of the greenhouse gases emitted by a petrol car over its entire lifetime’. The second is that ‘electric cars are recharged with electricity which in most countries is generated by fossil fuel combustion; that ‘together this means that a long-range electric car will cause the emission of more carbon dioxide for its first 60,000km than its petrol equivalent’; and that ‘this is why owning a second small car for short trips could result in higher overall emissions’; that ‘the IEA estimates the electric car will save 6 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime assuming global average emissions in electricity production’; that if Biden restores full electric car tax credit, he will essentially pay £5,700 to reduce emissions by up to 10 tons’; but that he can get US electric power producers to cut 10 tons for just £45’; and that ‘the IEA estimates that if the whole world gets 140 million electric cars by 2030, it will reduce emissions by just 190 million tons of carbon dioxide – a mere 0.4 per cent of global emissions’.

Thus, he claims that ‘we need a reality check’ in which  ‘politicians should stop writing huge cheques just because they believe electric cars are a major solution to climate change’, and recognise that ‘there is a simpler answer’; that ‘the hybrid car saves about the same amount of (total global) carbon dioxide over its lifetime’; and that ‘fossil fuel cars represent about 7 per cent of global emissions’; that ‘right now, electric car subsidies are something wealthy countries can offer virtue-signally elites’; but that ‘if we want to fix the climate, we need to focus on big emitters and drive innovation in fusion, fission, geothermal, wind and solar energy’; that ‘advances making any of these cheaper than fossil fuels would mean it is not just rich Londoners, but everyone, including in China and India, switching their energy consumption towards zero emissions’.  However, I say again, as I have throughout this website, that we must know there is a need, rather than merely believe there is, before we change anything, and even then we must know how to change it, rather than merely believe how to do so.                         20/11/20.  

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