Written in February 2021
Author: Ravinder Bhardwaj
Phrases like ‘Climate Change’, ‘Global Warming’, and ‘Climate Disaster’ etc. now appear very often in all kinds of media. Negative changes in the climate will certainly be our biggest threat if we don’t do anything about it or can be our biggest challenge if we started working together to avoid climate catastrophe. A wonderful book on climate ‘HOW TO AVOID A CLIMATE DISASTER’ from Bill Gates is a stark reminder of the disastrous effects of human activities on the climate since the industrial revolution when the use of fossil fuel (and the resulting carbon emission) started to go up. The terms global warming and climate change started to gain popularity in the 1980s describing the harmful effects of human activities on earth’s temperature and climate change. By the year 2000, the terms were globally known and used interchangeably and have been on the list of agendas during political summits like G20 and G7, yet little has been done to address the issue.
In the current times of the increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) with continuous strive towards elegant design and brilliant performance, cars (or automobiles) make up approximately 74% of the total annual production of motor vehicles in the world. A few online resources like this https://www.worldometers.info/cars/ can give a real-time estimate on the total automobiles produced from the start of the current fiscal year. The year 2018 had the highest number of automobiles produced, around 97 million vehicles than previous years’ annual production in the world. Although after 2018, the annual production has declined, 92 million in 2019 and 78 million in 2020, still the global annual production of vehicles remains very high. In 2019, only 1% of the automobile produced were electric and accounted for only 2.6% of global car sales. This clearly shows that it is a long road ahead for the complete transition from conventional fossil-fuel-based vehicles to fully electric vehicles. While the target of achieving zero carbon emission by 2050 sounds achievable with 29 more years in hand but the fact that any tiny emission of greenhouse gases will increase the temperature of the planet and remain in the atmosphere for a very long time. Quoting from the aforementioned book from Bill Gates, “one-fifth of the carbon dioxide emitted today will still be there in 10,000 years”. Thus, the gradual reduction in the production and use of CO2 emitting vehicles over two or three decades is not going to stop the rise in the earth’s temperature.
When the emitted greenhouse gases, regardless of regional or national origin, are added to the global atmosphere then the governments and automobiles and other industries across the globe should unite to achieve the target of zero-emission. The transition from fossil-fuels based automobiles to fully electricity-driven vehicles must be quick. It is easy to say, but the question is How it can be done? To answer this question following are my suggestions to all, specifically to the public and private sectors. To cut down the daily carbon emission in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), CO (carbon monoxide), and other gaseous pollutants released from the use of fossil fuels, the government should
bring legislation into action to stop the production of conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles and by 2025 replace them with EVs. Create policies to assist automobile manufacturers to achieve this aim.
put forward a policy to provide loans for example ‘Switch to Electric Loan’ to the public under certain terms and conditions to assist the public in trading their old vehicles (which get properly recycled) that would pay some part of the loan. The remaining loan can be recovered via monthly payment that customers can afford, and in return provide a brand-new or used EV that has passed stringent scrutiny for its automotive functions. Car maintenance and insurance requirements by law remain the same.
given one year time to automobile manufacturing industries to build up a production line for EVs from the existing infrastructure. These industries have already got manpower (engineers, technicians, designers etc.) who are highly skilled in repurposing the use of existing resources and technology in adapting to the building of EVs. This way automobile manufacturers will still be making sales of their vehicles. It will be challenging which is why both public and private partnerships at a global scale would make the target strategically and easily achievable.
plant more and more trees, maybe provide a target number for every region. Plan the most efficient use of available lands (parks, empty spaces, gardens, nature reserves etc.) to plant more trees.
Other things that can be done to assist target achievement
Automobile manufacturing industries should be allowed to concentrate entirely on manufacturing EVs while the government and the financial sector take responsibility for financing options made available to customers. The government would also be required to partner with energy companies to scale up the building of infrastructure of the charging points, finance service sector, metal and plastic recycling sector, industries manufacturing batteries for automobiles, and other companies such as solar power industries etc. Provide increased support to institutions and industries involved in research and development into the production of clean energy (electricity) from emission-free renewable resources. If the government and private sector fall short of budget, then maybe expenditure into areas such as space exploration (the United States has spent nearly US$650 billion on NASA since its inception) should be frozen for a few years. After all, the entire humanity currently resides on the planet Earth which should be our priority. Once the most pressing issues threatening the health of the planet has been resolved then we can think of taking humanity to other planets.
Once the plan is implemented, the annual global emission of CO2 and CO will significantly reduce. This reduction will, directly and indirectly, benefit society in many ways, for example, in the direct sense: people will be healthier, and deaths and illnesses caused due to air pollution will become a rarity. Also, the total annual expenditure on treatment and total work-life losses will decrease significantly. Whereas in the indirect sense: the rise of the earth’s temperature would slow down significantly which otherwise would continue to drive climate change disasters in different forms (flood, tsunami, wildfires, ice storms etc.). These worldwide calamities lead to a huge loss of life and economy which could be spent on the development and advancement of the society if had not been used in rebuilding the infrastructures destroyed by natural disasters.
People will be saving a significant amount of money and time annually sheer due to the absence of spending on petrol, diesel etc.
High material demand for car production: Much of the material required would come from the reuse or recycling of available material. For example, from old vehicles: after a thorough inspection to assess material-worth of the car (that can be reused w/o modification or with modification or require complete recycling), for example, metallic body and plastics, seats and electronic systems can be reused with or without modifications.
Increased in the demand for batteries: An increase in the production of EVs would demand increased production of highly efficient batteries and some other components. Some proportion of metal required for the production can be obtained from recycled cars. Scrapped/sold cars still contain highly valuable items in them such as the metallic body itself, batteries, seats, plastic materials, electronic system, and wire etc. which can be reused or recycled.
PS: this blog is not complete yet, it is in the process of development. I would appreciate your comments and advice to achieve the aim of this idea.