No PLANet B

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” G.Orwell

As Macron told the US congress, “there is no planet B”.

The Paris agreement commits to keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees by controlling Greenhouse Gases (GHG). Developed countries should continue to take the lead, providing incentives through tools such as domestic policies and carbon pricing.

The UK has managed to reduce its GHG by 40% since 1990, but we need to achieve an 80% reduction by 2050 to comply with our commitment. That is effectively a third of current levels. If it was 100 it is now 60 and needs to be 20.

The largest GHG source is energy supply at 32%, followed by domestic transport with 20%. Of domestic transport more than half is made up by cars and taxis.

So it is clear we need to make a start on our Internal combustion powered cars.

Last year saw the 1st negative step in terms of average CO2 of the new car fleet with 1% increase in indicated emissions.  This was mainly due to a reduction of diesel vehicle purchases in preference to petrols. Diesels are better for GHGs but worse for human health. The diesel car does not seem likely to recover from this decline as most manufacturers are now reducing or ceasing development.  Perhaps we can extract 10% efficiency improvements from further petrol engines, but most manufacturers are investing heavily in electric.

With Electric cars at 1-2% of sales, it will be some time before they deliver a significant benefit to GHG reductions, and they are not zero emission despite proclaiming to be so. A net reduction of CO2 is more like 50% per vehicle in the UK with the current electrical power supplies.  If we could replace all the cars for electric then we could get half way to our ambition.  Currently renewables make up 1/3 of our electrical supply.  By my calculations we effectively need to double our renewables as a proportion of electricity and switch completely to electric cars by 2050. 

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