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Boris Johnson has pledged that the UK will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 68% below 1990 levels by 2030, an increase on the current target of about 57%. It is hoped that this will encourage other countries to raise their climate targets as well, as the UK prepares to co-host a virtual summit of world leaders on the climate later this month. 

Johnson said, “We have proven we can reduce our emissions and create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the process. We are taking the lead with an ambitious new target to reduce our emissions by 2030, faster than any major economy and the UK is urging world leaders to bring forward their own ambitious plans to cut emissions and set net zero [carbon] targets.”

What is Happening?

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It is understood that ministers are preparing more policies to supplement the 10-point plan and the NDC, including an energy white paper before the end of the year that will set out some new measures.

Other major world economies are also expected to come forward with updated NDCs. EU leaders will meet next week to decide on a potential 55% emissions cut by 2030, and the US president-elect, Joe Biden, is planning to rejoin the Paris agreement when he takes office. China has set a goal of reaching peak emissions by 2030 but has not yet submitted a formal plan to the UN, while both Japan and South Korea have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Featured image by: Flickr 

The UK government has announced the ban of new petrol and diesel cars from sale after 2030. The ban had initially been planned for 2040 but has been brought forward under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan to tackle climate change.

Currently, fewer than 1% of cars on UK roads are powered entirely by electricity, so the new announcement to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars after 2030 will require a massive investment in the infrastructure needed for electric vehicles.

What is Happening?

Industry insiders, including president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King, says that this includes adding more charging stations and a better supply of cars that are also affordable. 

According to Sky News, the only country with a more ambitious electric vehicles target is Norway, which will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2025. The UK is planning to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Johnson says, “Our green industrial revolution will be powered by the wind turbines of Scotland and the North East, propelled by the electric vehicles made in the Midlands and advanced by the latest technologies developed in Wales, so we can look ahead to a more prosperous, greener future.”

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The 10 points in UK’s green plan are:

While many have welcomed the plan, Chris Stark, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said the prime minister’s plan was “a bold statement of ambition” but added, “What’s missing is the road map to achieving it.”

Speaking at the Conservative party conference, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that offshore wind farms would generate enough electricity to power every home in the UK by 2030, also announcing upgrades of £160 million to ports and factories for building turbines to help the country “build back greener.” However, scaling up to the envisioned 40GW of offshore wind generation will require investments of about £50 billion. The UK needs to include hydrogen in its journey to net-zero emissions. 

Also part of Johnson’s plans are a focus on hydrogen-fuelled trucks, trains and aircraft, retrofitting homes and spending more money on carbon capture and storage technology. Longer-term goals include expanding to other sectors the use of hydrogen as a source of power in the UK.

This is because moving to wind power and away from fossil fuels is not that simple. Some uses of gas cannot be replaced by renewable power; gas is used to both back up renewables and power heavy industry and problems with intermittency and intensity persist. Concerns arise when on a still, cloudy day, solar panels don’t generate electricity and wind turbines don’t turn. Further, according to the Financial Times, batteries are not yet the answer- if London were to rely on batteries for just a week, it would need to buy every battery produced in the world for the next two years. 

Secondly, electricity is unable to provide the heat required for heavy industry. Cement kilns and steel furnaces- sectors which cause more than 20% of global emissions- operate at over 1000°C. Therefore, clean hydrogen would arguably be the best choice for replacing gas when taking into effect economics and emissions. When hydrogen is used as a fuel, only water is produced. 

Currently, the cheapest way of making clean hydrogen is by converting it from natural gas, and then capturing and storing the leftover carbon. This “blue hydrogen” eliminates 95% of emissions compared to gas used in power stations, furnaces and kilns. Norway has been utilising this form of energy for decades. 

You might also like: Can Blue Hydrogen Spur the Transition to Green Energy?

Further, by building on hydrogen infrastructure, it paves the way for 100% carbon-free “green hydrogen,” produced by electrolysing water with renewable power. However, both blue and green hydrogen are extremely expensive; blue hydrogen costs more than twice as much as natural gas. Energy providers will need to work with the government to share the costs.

However, with greater scale and technology, hydrogen may one day cost less than gas. 10 years ago, wind power needed high electricity prices, but projects such as Dogger Bank now compete head on with fossil fuels. The UK will need to implement the right incentives to power a clean economic recovery post-COVID-19 while reducing emissions closer to net zero. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged that offshore wind farms will generate enough electricity to power every home in the UK by 2030, announcing upgrades of £160 million to ports and factories for building turbines to help the country “build back greener.”

Speaking at the Conservative party conference, Johnson says that the plan aims to create 2 000 jobs in construction and support 60 000 more, adding that the UK is the “Saudi Arabia of wind power”; he says, “As Saudi Arabia is to oil, the UK is to wind – a place of almost limitless resource, but in the case of wind without the carbon emissions and without the damage to the environment.”

Floating wind farms in the UK will also get a boost under the plan, with a new target of adding 1 gigawatt of capacity by 2030. Floating turbines are suitable for deep ocean waters, but the technology is much more expensive than traditional turbines. However, the cost of subsidising wind power has fallen rapidly in recent years compared to alternative power sources like nuclear. 

Money will be invested into manufacturing in Teesside and Humber in northern England, as well as sites in Scotland and Wales. The government is raising its target for offshore wind capacity by 2030 from 30 to 40 gigawatts; the UK currently has capacity of 10 gigawatts. Analysts say that scaling up at this rate will require substantial investment- about £50 billion.

The speech comes after Johnson made a pledge at the UN Summit on Biodiversity in late September to protect 30% of UK land for nature. He also said that he wants the UK to take the lead in carbon capture and storage technology.

You might also like: 11 Things That Happened at the UN Summit on Biodiversity

While the announcement was applauded as a step in the right direction, some pointed out that homes in the UK account for a third of electricity demand, while the rest goes to offices and factories. 

The announcement forms part of the government’s vision for an energy system driven by offshore wind and supported by hydrogen and carbon capture technologies. As the world’s largest user of offshore wind power and being home to the first floating wind farm, the UK is a leader in this sector and the world will be watching its next steps. 

Featured image by: Flickr

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has announced that four critically endangered wildcat kittens have been born at the Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland. 

Guests will now be able to see the kittens, named Strom, Eilein, Druim and Vaara, after the wildlife conservation charity recently reopened wildcat viewing areas at the park.  

Wildcats are one of Scotland’s most threatened mammals and the RZSS is leading a new partnership project, Saving Wildcats, which aims to secure the animals’ future by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild. 

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David Barclay, ex-situ conservation manager of Saving Wildcats, says, “Following a sad history of habitat loss, persecution and, more recently, breeding with domestic cats, wildcats are on the brink of extinction in Scotland but it’s not too late. By bringing together the expertise and skills of national and international organisations, the Saving Wildcats project can secure a future for the Highland tiger by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild, so every birth is a potential lifeline for the species.” 

Saving Wildcats is being led by RZSS in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía. Learn more about the Saving Wildcats (SWAforLIFE) project at savingwildcats.org.uk/.

The park has asked visitors to wear face coverings at the outdoor enclosure to help protect the cats and others. Cats can catch flu from humans and some have caught the COVID-19 virus. In April, a female Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for the infection, potentially after coming into contact with an asymptomatic zookeeper.  

This article comes from the frontline activities of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, whose mission is to connect people with nature and safeguard species from extinction.

About the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland  

Founded in 1909, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is a wildlife conservation charity and owns Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park. For further information about RZSS conservation projects in Scotland and around the world, please visit rzss.org.uk .

Featured image by: Alyson Houston/RZSS

The UK government is planning to introduce a new law aimed at clamping down on illegal deforestation by fining large companies who cannot prove that their supply chains are not linked to illegal deforestation.

The legislation- drafted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs- would prohibit companies in the UK above a certain size to use products grown on land which has been subject to illegal deforestation. Ministers have launched a six-week consultation to discuss these measures, where they will consider how the law will impact businesses and other stakeholders. 

Businesses could also face substantial fines if they fail to publish information to show where these key products- including rubber, soil and palm oil- come from and whether they are produced in line with local laws protecting forests. The Department says that these illegally produced commodities ‘have no place in the UK market’. The size of these fines would be determined at a later date. A regulator will check that businesses have complied, and if found not to, the environment secretary will have the power to issue fines.

The proposal says that the legislation would target a relatively small number of businesses. Employee or turnover thresholds will be set out in the secondary legislation, but the department has said that the approach would minimise the regulatory burden on smaller businesses in the UK whose supply chain is less likely to have an impact. 

Deforestation accounts for about 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The issue has come into mainstream politics, with both the UK and the EU considering rules to outlaw the importing of products from illegally deforested land. 

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International Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith, says that there is a ‘hugely important connection between the products we buy and their wider environmental footprint’ and that ‘the UK has a duty to lead the way in combating the biodiversity and nature crisis’. 

While industry associations representing food and drinks makers, as well as retailers, welcomed the announcement, Elena Polisano, forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, says the law is ‘seriously flawed’. “We’ve all seen the way President Bolsonaro has championed the expansion of agriculture in Brazil at the expense of the Amazon rainforest. We will never solve this problem without tackling demand. Companies like Tesco, who sell more meat and dairy and so use more soya for animal feed than any other UK retailers, know what they need to do to reduce the impact they are having on deforestation in the Amazon and other crucial forests: They must reduce the amount of meat and dairy they sell and drop forest destroyers from their supply chain immediately,” she says. 

According to the recent report from WWF, to satisfy the UK’s demand for commodities including beef, cocoa, palm oil, and paper and pulp between 2016 and 2018, a total of 21.3 million hectares of land, equivalent to 88% of the UK land area, was needed each year. 

Earlier this year, more than 40 European companies, including retailers Tesco and Marks and Spencer, warned they would boycott Brazilian products if President Jair Bolsonaro’s government did not act on deforestation. 

Institutional investors have also urged Brasília to halt deforestation. 

In the first half of 2020, deforestation had risen by 25% from the same period in 2019, totalling 4 879 sq km

Featured image by: Nathanael Coyne

International conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) along with partners Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) and British Marine have received an award of over £1 million to boost the native oyster population in Britain, in the biggest project of its kind in the UK. 

The funding was raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and awarded as part of the Dream Fund, which gives charities the opportunity to bring a dream project to life. It will help the ‘Wild Oysters’ project to recover the native oyster population which will in turn see cleaner water, healthier fisheries and improved and plentiful marine biodiversity in Britain. 

Across Britain and the UK, wild native oyster populations have declined by over 95% due to a combination of over-harvesting, habitat loss, pollution and disease. Healthy oyster beds are hugely productive, providing important fish nursery ground habitats and supporting commercially important species such as seabass, bream and edible crabs. Oysters also purify the water in which they grow, removing and storing nitrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Bringing conservation and industry together, the unique partnership between ZSL, BLUE and British Marine will allow oyster nurseries, suspended under marina pontoons, to release the next generation of baby oysters to the seabed. The young oysters, known as spat, will settle across the three oyster reefs created across British Estuaries including the River Conwy (Wales), Firth of Clyde (Scotland) and Tyne and Wear coastal water body (England). The project will work together with local partners to commence the restoration of the 20 000 sq km of oyster reefs that have been lost from around the coastline of Britain. 

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The oyster nurseries will provide a ‘unique window into the ocean’ which the project’s backers hope will allow them to inspire the next generation to protect and enhance the marine environment. The ‘Wild Oysters’ project will engage thousands of volunteers, from schools, Girlguides and Scouts to University students and local community groups to spread the word about the importance and significance of increasing oyster populations. 

ZSL Senior Conservation Programme Manager, Alison Debney said; “It’s wonderful to celebrate this win for oysters- they are the superheroes of our oceans. Despite their small size they’re capable of making huge changes in our marine environment.  

“Our dream is to grow a self-sustaining population of native oysters in the UK. This funding awarded by Postcode Dream Trust means we now have the potential to release nine billion native oyster larvae into the ocean, creating oyster nurseries in UK waters, work with local communities to care for our oceans superheroes and connect people and wildlife.   

“Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery we hope to see healthy, resilient, coastal waters and make a remarkable difference to the future of wild oysters.” 

BLUE’s Senior UK Project Manager, Morven Robertson said; “Our oceans are our lifeline, they are capable of absorbing over a third of our CO2 emissions, but they are in crisis. Marine life populations are continuing to decline at a rapid rate. The incredible support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery marks a turning point for the recovery of UK seas and native oyster restoration. The Wild Oysters project will set a global precedent for the restoration of oysters and will help our ocean to breathe once again.” 

British Marine Environment Executive, James Scott- Anderson said; “This incredible funding award will allow the project partners a unique opportunity to bring together marine industry, science & expertise. Together we will implement a game changing solution to benefit and restore the UK seas ecosystem, water quality and biodiversity. Furthermore, the project connects with coastal communities and shares resources and knowledge to build a sustainable future for UK marinas, along with raising awareness of water pollution and the impacts of our actions on the environment for beach users, paddle boarders and anyone swimming in the sea.”

This article comes from the frontline activities of the Zoological Society of London, Blue Marine Foundation and British Marine, whose mission it is to create a world where wildlife thrives, address overfishing and protect the marine environment for the sustainability of the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry respectively. 

About the Zoological Society of London

The ZSL is an international conservation charity working to create a world where wildlife thrives. From investigating the health threats facing animals to helping people and wildlife live alongside each other, ZSL is committed to bringing wildlife back from the brink of extinction. 

The ZSL engages in field conservation work around the world and educates millions of people through its two zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. 

For more information, visit www.zsl.org.   

About British Marine  

British Marine is a not for profit trade association for the UK leisure, superyacht and small commercial marine industry. Its members come from a broad range of businesses including boat builders, chandlers, brokers, marinas, passenger boats and engines.  

It represents the interests of members and the boating community alike. It aims to deliver water experiences for everyone. The marine environment is a fundamental aspect of this strategy.  

For more information, visit https://britishmarine.co.uk/

About the Blue Marine Foundation 

Known as BLUE, this UK registered charity was set up in 2010 by some of the team behind the award-winning documentary film ‘The End of the Line’. 

BLUE aims to restore the ocean by addressing overfishing.  BLUE is dedicated to creating marine reserves, restoring vital habitats and establishing models of sustainable fishing.  

BLUE’s mission is to see 30% of the world’s ocean under effective protection by 2030.   

For more information, visit https://www.bluemarinefoundation.com/

Featured image supplied by Zoological Society of London.

A study shows that within 50 years, a billion people will either be displaced or forced to live in insufferable heat for every 1°C rise in global temperature, illustrating that the human cost of the climate crisis will be far worse than previously believed. 

The paper, which examines how the climate crisis will affect human habitats, warns that under worst-case scenarios of increasing emissions, areas where a third of the global population currently live will be as hot as the hottest parts of the Sahara desert within 50 years.

Even in the most optimistic outlook, a rise in global temperature will cause 1.2 billion people to fall outside the comfortable ‘climate niche’ where humans have lived for at least 6 000 years.

Tim Lenton, one of the researchers in the study, says, “The numbers are flabbergasting. I literally did a double take when I first saw them. I’ve previously studied climate tipping points, which are usually considered apocalyptic. But this hit home harder. This puts the threat in very human terms.”

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The majority of humans have always lived in regions where the average annual temperatures are around 6°C to 28°C, ideal for human health and food production. However, this range is shifting and shrinking as a result of anthropogenic climate change, which is dropping more and more people into what the paper describes as ‘near unliveable’ extremes.

The researchers say that they are shocked at how sensitive humanity is, because we are concentrated on land- which is warming faster than the oceans- and because most future population growth will be in already hot regions of Asia and Africa. Because of these demographic factors, the average human will experience a temperature increase of 7.5°C when global temperatures reach 3°C warming.

At this temperature, about a third of the world’s population would live in average temperatures of 29°C, conditions that are rare outside of the most scorched part of the Sahara, but with global heating of 3°C, this is expected to be the norm for 1.2 billion people in India, 485 million people in Nigeria and more than 100 million in each of Pakistan, Indonesia and Sudan. This would create hundreds of millions more climate refugees and pose challenges to food production systems. In fact, David Wallas- Wells, the author of “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,” says that even at 2.5°C warming, the world would enter a global food deficit- needing more calories than the planet can produce, mostly thanks to drought.

Professor Marten Scheffer, one of the lead authors of the study, says, ““We did not expect humans to be so sensitive. We think of ourselves as very adaptable because we use clothes, heating and air conditioning. But, in fact, the vast majority of people live- and have always lived- inside a climate niche that is now moving as never before. There will be more change in the next 50 years than in the past 6 000 years.”

The authors hope that their findings spur policymakers to accelerate emission cuts and work together to cope with migration.

In late 2018, the UN World Meteorological Organization warned that global temperatures are on course for a 3-5°C rise this century, far overshooting the Paris Agreement target of limiting this increase to 2°C or less by 2100.

According to estimates from over 70 peer-reviewed studies, Carbon Brief paints a grim picture of the world under 2°C, 3°C and 4°C temperature rise this century:

At two degrees, the melting of ice sheets will pass a tipping point of collapse, triggering flooding in dozens of the world’s major cities and resulting in a global sea-level rise of 56cm. It is estimated that that global GDP will be cut by 13%. 400 million more people will suffer from water scarcity and heat waves in the northern latitudes will kill thousands each summer; this will be worse along the equator. In India, there would be 32 times as many extreme heat waves, each lasting five times as long and exposing 93 times more people. This is our best-case scenario.

At three degrees, southern Europe will be in permanent drought. The average drought in Central America would last 19 months, in the Caribbean, 21 and in northern Africa, 60 months- five years. Those areas burned annually by wildfires would double in the Mediterranean and sextuple in the US. Cities from Miami Beach to Jakarta will be submerged by sea-level rise and damages from river flooding will grow 30-fold in Bangladesh, 20-fold in India and up to 60-fold in the UK. This level of warming is better than we’d do if all of the nations of the world honoured their Paris commitments- which only a handful are.

At four degrees, there would be eight million cases of dengue fever each year in Latin America alone. Global grain yields would fall by as much as 50%, producing annual or close-to-annual food crises. The global economy would fall more than 30% than without climate change, and we would see at least half again as much conflict and warfare as we do today.

While great strides have been made in terms of the plummeting costs of renewable energy and the increasing global divestment from coal, carbon emissions are still growing. It is important to decrease emissions to level and then bend the curve.

One way of doing this is through a carbon tax. However, a tax needs to be far higher than any of those currently in use or being considered; The IPCC has proposed raising the cost of a tonne of carbon possibly as high as US$5 000 by 2030; they suggest this may have to increase by US$27 000 by 2100. Today, the average price of carbon across 42 major economies is US$8 per tonne.

These numbers would shock even those most optimistic; if estimates are correct, then by the end of the century, a rise in global temperature will displace up to 5 billion people, nearly two-thirds of the current global population.

Featured image by: Oxfam East Africa

Some of the biggest economies in Europe- Great Britain, Germany and Spain- have recently achieved new records in solar energy generation, in part due to a drop in air pollution as a result of Covid-19 shutdowns, which has resulted in clearer skies and increased production of photovoltaic cells.

Solar Energy in Europe: Statistics

Great Britain’s solar production peaked at 9.68 GW in late April, up from a previous record of 9.55 GW set in May 2019. Germany generated a record-high 32.2 GW of solar power in the same period, accounting for 40% of the country’s electricity needs. 

February became the greenest month on record for UK electricity generation, with average carbon intensity- the CO2 emissions produced per kilowatt hour of electricity consumed- reaching a new low. 

Lockdown measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have seen a significant reduction in electricity demand across the UK. This change in demand, along with favourable weather conditions (sunny and cool- which allows solar panels to perform at their best) and a decline in air pollution, aided in the solar energy generation record throughout not only the UK, but the rest of Europe. The UK has seen at least a 25% decline in nitrogen oxide levels in recent weeks, but the drop is thought to be more pronounced, up to half, in the most polluted places in the country; air pollution can block solar radiation and make panels dirtier. Substances like sulfur dioxide also result in more cloud cover, reducing the output of solar photovoltaic systems. 

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Chris Hewett, chief executive of the UK’s Solar Trade Association, says, “Ideal weather conditions and lower levels of pollution than normal mean solar is providing record levels of cheap, clean power to the grid.” 

In late March, Spain generated 6.3 GW of solar energy, accounting for about a quarter of the country’s electricity needs. This is the result of last year’s boost in installations, which expanded new capacity by 4.7 GW, making it the largest market in Europe.

In early April, Iberdrola grid-connected the 500 MW Núñez de Balboa project. With this extra capacity, the new record may have already been broken; the statistics for April will be released later this month. 

Records are common at this time of year- panels installed in the previous six months make their first significant contribution to the grid. However, the effect is more pronounced this year.

A study published in Nature last year examined how much air pollution impacted the output of solar assets in China.

The researchers found losses of 11-15% between 1960 and 2015. The study also found that if pollution decreased to the levels seen in 1960, an extra US$1.9 billion of electricity could have been generated in 2016. China is forecasted to have 400 GW of installed solar by 2030; the additional revenue could reach US$6.7 billion a year.

Following its plans to shift forward the internal combustion-engine vehicles ban to 2035, the British government’s allocation of an additional £1.3bn to stimulate the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) has been lauded as a concrete step forward for sustainability efforts. Singapore is also powering forward with plans to make electric vehicles cheaper and more accessible. While necessary in moving towards a low-carbon future, this has also attracted criticism over its protracted timeline, while sparking debate on the purported benefits of electrifying transport. Moreover, EV adoption continues to be inhibited by concerns over affordability and practicalities of charging, which are especially pronounced in many developing countries.

Being the world’s first major economy to legislate a net-zero emissions target by 2050, the UK has adopted recommendations by the Committee on Climate Change to hasten the electrification of its vehicle fleet. Despite sales volumes of battery EVs having tripled from January 2019 to January 2020- from 1 334 to 4 054 vehicles, amidst an overall 7% decline in the domestic automotive industry– battery electric vehicles still have an overall UK market share of less than 3%. Since plenty of work remains, increased funding for EV purchase subsidies and development of charging infrastructure will go a long way in improving EV affordability while alleviating concerns of the battery going flat while driving- commonly referred to as ‘range anxiety’.

Meanwhile, hybrid sales climbed in the same period, with close to one in five cars sold in the UK either fully electric or using technology that includes both an engine and a battery.

The industry is facing conflict over the future of hybrid cars, as the government is planning a consultation with a view to banning them by 2035 alongside petrol and diesel vehicles; previous plans for a ban on petrol and diesel sales in 2040 allowed the sale of hybrid vehicles that can drive for a reasonable distance using only battery power. 

Singapore plans to phase out petrol vehicles by 2040, paving the way for greater adoption of EVs. Incentives for drivers to switch to EVs have been announced, including extension of the Vehicular Emissions Scheme to light commercial vehicles, rebates for early adoption and the revision of road taxes for qualifying vehicles. 

The global EV market will reach a tipping point by 2022 when the cost of owning an EV will be on par with internal combustion engine vehicles, but there will be a supply gap of almost 14 million EVs in 2030, marring Singapore’s efforts. 

The Republic has set the goal of creating 28 000 charging points, a significant addition to the current 1 600.

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how to move to electric vehicles
CO2 emissions of diesel vehicles compared to EVs in different European countries (Source: Transport & Environment).

Amidst the optimism surrounding cleaner transport, it is worth noting that environmental benefits from vehicle electrification are not reaped equally by all countries. While averting air pollution in urban centres, EVs are ultimately powered by electricity, which renders them only as clean as their energy source. Logically, countries which are heavily dependent on fossil fuels have comparatively little incentive to prioritise EV uptake, since investing in alternative energy generation yields more immediate returns in reducing environmental footprint. 

This notion renders EV uptake in the UK feasible; the proportion of its power generation mix made up by fossil fuels fell to a record low in December 2019, after renewable energy became the UK’s largest source of electricity, with wind and solar energy accounting for nearly 39% of its electricity in the quarter of 2019. Coal-fired power stations contributed 1% of the UK’s electricity in the same period. After two coal plants- Aberthaw B and Fiddler’s Ferry- close in March, the UK will have four coal-fired power stations. 

In regions (for example, much of ASEAN) where the automotive industry features prominently as an economic sector, it is challenging even for established EV manufacturers like Tesla to successfully enter the market, due to lack of brand recognition and reliable procurement chains. 

electric vehicles
Comparisons of electric vehicle sales in China, the US and the EU (Source: US Bureau of Economic Analysis, China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, International Council on Clean Transportation; put together by Earth.Org).

Without aggressive policy action by these countries to increase accessibility of electric vehicles to the general populace, it is inconceivable that smaller companies can attain the scale of production necessary to stimulate domestic original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) into rethinking their product lines. Specialising in electrification of two-wheeled vehicles could be a more effective way of catalysing regional-scale disruption. By focusing on transition towards public transport, these governments which currently appear as laggards in the EV race could end up as global leaders in sustainable transport in the decades to come. 

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