The Government plans to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, just 8 years from now. And while some may argue that this is an unrealistic target, it is a crucial shift integral to cutting carbon emissions fast enough in order to avoid the real pit of climate change.
For the past 60 years, roads and cities have been built for the purpose of vehicles, paving an astounding result that 4 out of every 5 miles travelled in the UK is by car. Therefore, a shift in mindsets and regulations to electric cars is essential, as it is both a promising way to cut down emissions whilst minimising the change on people's everyday lives.
There is no doubt that electric cars have their fair share of problems, and are in no way the answer to our climate crisis. It is, however, unequivocally superior to traditional fossil fuelled cars, with electric cars imposing half the environmental impact over its lifetime compared to an average car today.
There are 2 fundamental reasons for this. The first is that the carbon footprint of electricity is on a downward trajectory, so cars powered by electricity are bound to match this trend. With the possibility and potential for this to be sourced through greener and renewable alternatives, they do not emit toxic fumes and greenhouse gases like their petrol and diesel counterparts. In short, electric cars are less polluting from the initial manufacturing process all the way through to their lives on the road.
Secondly, electric motors operate at an efficiency of around 77% compared to an upper limit of 30% for combustion engines. They are less wasteful and their mechanisms are more energy and cost effective, achieving twice as many miles than a fossil fuelled car from the same amount of energy.
However, as already mentioned, this only solves part of one problem. There are many other problems that also need to be addressed. Mining is a large process within car manufacturing and electric cars require mined cobalt for its batteries. UNICEF have estimated that 40,000 children put their health and lives at risk everyday mining for cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo, exasperated by their inexcusable pay, long hours and unforgivable working conditions. It is paramount for suppliers and governments to put regulations in place and prioritise these workers and communities at the top of their agenda.
Whilst electric cars may be better than petrol and diesel cars, we must take a step back and assess the bigger picture. The car industry needs to change their operations, the government needs to change their priorities and we all need to change our mindsets.