27 April 2008
There is a future for cars, but only if they are powered by electricity instead of oil.
That is the message that is going to be delivered by environmental group, WWF, tomorrow as the prospect of fuel shortages looms, due to the industrial dispute at Grangemouth.
In a new report (2.2MB pdf) presaging “the end of the oil age”, WWF says that vehicles which are plugged in and powered by renewable electricity can be part of a climate-friendly transport strategy.
The use of hybrid and battered-power cars could help Scotland move towards more sustainable transport, argues the report. The pollution that is disrupting the climate could be cut, and potential conflicts over dwindling oil resources averted.
“The problems and panic we are seeing across the country shows just how reliant Scotland is on cars powered by unsustainable fossil fuels,” says Dr Dan Barlow, the acting director of WWF Scotland.
“The transport sector makes up a major part of Scotland’s climate emissions and these emissions are rising. Our report shows that it is possible to break our addiction to oil, if the political will is there.”
According to the report, electric vehicles can be four times more efficient than those driven by internal combustion engines. In a conventional vehicle, less than a quarter of the energy contained in the fuel is converted into motion, whereas electric vehicles make use of up to 75 per cent of the power taken from the grid.
Electric vehicles are also said to be less polluting than many alternative fuels, even when the electricity is generated by coal or gas. Electric cars can also be three times more efficient than those fuelled by hydrogen, the report says.
General Motors, Toyota and Ford all produced electric vehicles in the 1990s in response to a ‘zero emissions’ policy introduced in California. But the makes didn’t persist after the policy was watered down.
According to Barlow, the Scottish government’s proposed climate change bill provides an opportunity to make deep cuts in polluting emissions in Scotland. WWF is a member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of more than 30 environment, development, faith, community and other groups with at least 1.5 million supporters.
Public consultation on the draft climate change bill ended last week, with more than 21,000 responses submitted. “We have been delighted with this unprecedented level of public responses,” says Mike Robinson, who chairs Stop Climate Chaos Scotland.
“As this WWF report shows, tackling climate change doesn't need lots of new technologies, but simply requires the technologies we have already to be used in more sustainable ways. A strong climate bill, with annual pollution cuts of three per cent should help provide a framework that will encourage real action to reduce emissions across every sector of society.”
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland believes the Scottish climate change bill should:
- Establish the legal framework to require the reduction of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050.
- Contain statutory annual targets for at least three per cent cuts in emissions year on year to set us on a steady path of reductions to 2050.
- Include climate change emissions from international aviation and shipping.