Politics

The backlash against electric cars – EURACTIV.com


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Revolutions are messy affairs. The electric vehicle revolution (the term favoured by transport pundits across the developed world for rising EV sales) is no exception.

Europe is betting big on electric cars to cut road transport emissions, which despite the bloc’s best efforts continue to rise (pandemic years notwithstanding). The EU has gone so far as to propose a de facto ban on the sale of thermal cars from 2035, all but ensuring the supremacy of plug-in EVs (with a scattering of hydrogen cell vehicles for good measure).

But as EVs become mainstream, sceptics are increasingly vocal. As with all upheavals, the EV revolution must contend with counter-revolutionaries.

Faced with a slew of concerns, Brussels used its Fit for 55 climate laws package, tabled in July 2021, to try and legislate away many of the long-standing criticisms of electric vehicles.

Drivers are worried that electric vehicles have poor range? The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation will ensure charging points are plentiful across the EU.

Consumers are disturbed by stories of human rights abuses in the mining of raw materials needed to produce batteries for EVs? The EU battery regulation will ensure that Europe has the most ethically produced batteries on Earth.

There’s concern that heightened taxes on internal combustion engine vehicles will hit the poorest in society the hardest? The Climate Action Social Fund will provide a pot of money to compensate the most vulnerable.

But as EVs come under heightened scrutiny by pundits and industry, new criticisms are being aired.

In an op-ed in Britain’s Daily Mail, Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and well-known critic of climate science, questioned whether electric cars will be seen as the new diesel cars – a reference to the push to switch vehicles to lower-CO2 diesel rather than petrol, which overlooked the harmful air pollutants that came with burning diesel.

In his piece, Lomborg argues that the weight of the battery means electric vehicles are much heavier than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, which will increase road fatalities (of course, getting hit by an ICE vehicle at speed will merely leave you maimed for life).

This extra weight will also hurt the environment, Lomborg contends, due to more particles leaching from tyres due to friction with the road.

Experts in the field have dismissed these claims as largely fatuous, pointing out that batteries continue to get lighter and that while road particles are a serious issue, the overall emissions from ICE vehicles and EVs are not comparable.

However, another claim is likely to cause policymakers a greater headache than the ramifications of heavier cars – the EV revolution’s threat to employment figures.

The transition to electric vehicles will put around 73,000 jobs at risk in Italy alone, according to the country’s metal workers’ union and an employers’ group.

The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) has similarly warned that an electric vehicle-only approach would lead to around half a million job losses in the EU.

Misinformation about the environmental impact of EVs may be easy to counter, but stark warnings of widespread unemployment are certain to occupy the minds of national and EU lawmakers alike.


Petrol tourists descend on Poland

The cost of living across the EU is going up, leaving governments scrambling to rein in prices. In Poland, one measure taken to ease the burden has had an unintended consequence.

The Polish government lowered VAT on petrol and diesel in response to inflation, making refuelling in the country 25 to 30 cents cheaper per litre.

This has resulted in ‘petrol tourists’ flocking to the nation, particularly from Slovakia, Czechia, and Germany. There are reports that bargain-hunters are filling canisters with the reduced-price fuel to bring home.

Already several Polish petrol stations have experienced shortages as a result of the cross-border shopping.

In response, the Polish Road Transport Inspection agency announced that inspections will be carried out to ensure petrol tourists aren’t breaking the rules. Under the law, no more than four 60-litre canisters of fuel are allowed in a car.

Read the full story here.


Jeff Bezos vs historic Dutch bridge

Amazon-founder and sometime spaceman Jeff Bezos has a problem that only the mega-rich will be able to truly empathise with – the multi-billionaire’s newly constructed superyacht is too big to fit under Rotterdam’s Koningshaven Bridge, leaving it stranded.

What’s one of the world’s richest men to do in the face of short-sighted, century-old European architecture? One plan being discussed is to dismantle the bridge to let the superyacht through and then to rebuild it, Business Insider reports.

If this goes ahead, either Bezos or the company behind the yacht will have to foot the bill, stressed Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb.

Given that the boat itself cost $500 million, it’s likely that Bezos can afford it.

Unsurprisingly, Rotterdam residents aren’t happy with the idea of their bridge being deconstructed to please a billionaire. Around 1,200 people have pledged to throw rotten eggs at the yacht as it passes through the harbour as a sign of their displeasure.


MEP Jutta Paulus: Cheap flights are distorting the EU transport market

New legislation tabled by the European Commission would oblige airlines refuelling at EU airports to uplift kerosene mixed with a set percentage of sustainable aviation fuels. The proposed ‘ReFuelEU Aviation’ regulation is a basis to ensure that industry bears the true cost of aviation’s impact on the environment, argues MEP Jutta Paulus.

Budget airlines push for end to carbon market exemption for long-haul carriers

Low-fare airlines have called on EU lawmakers to scrap the exemption which allows European long-haul carriers to avoid paying for carbon emissions on flights outside of Europe.

Canfin: Battery Regulation to enter into force ‘six months’ early

In an interview with EURACTIV France, MEP Pascal Canfin spoke about the EU Parliament’s proposals to improve the battery regulation and actions to accelerate the transition towards full electric mobility in the EU.

Advanced biofuels can replace used cooking oil in aviation, industry says

Pressure is growing on EU lawmakers to ensure agricultural and waste residues are legally required in the production of green jet fuel to prevent a reliance on imported used cooking oil.

EU tests blockchain certification scheme for rare earths, EV batteries

An EU-funded certification scheme using blockchain is being developed for rare earths as automakers demand proof that materials used to make magnets for electric vehicles (EVs) are not linked to toxic pollution.




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