The big wave sweeping Europe at the moment is the movement to phase out gasoline powered cars (and diesel cars too) in favor of electric cars. It's all part of the goal of achieving "zero emissions" -- whatever that means. Do these people have any idea that electricity generation also involves "emissions," albeit at a more remote location? OK, it is possible to generate "zero emissions" electricity with nuclear reactors, but they're phasing those out too. Wind and solar? They don't work, at least not to power an electric grid on their own. And how exactly is solar power going to make any contribution at all to reducing emissions from automobiles when everybody wants to recharge their electric cars in the middle of the night, when solar produces nothing?
As usual with these things, it was Germany that got the ball rolling. Last October its Bundesrat (upper legislative chamber) passed a resolution to allow only "emissions free" vehicles on the road after 2030 -- with taxpayer subsidies, of course, to strong-arm the people into going along. From Dezeen, October 10, 2016:
The country's Bundesrat, or Federal Council, passed a resolution late last week to only approve emission-free cars for use on the roads by 2030. This would effectively phase out vehicles with internal combustion engines . . . in 14 years' time. . . . The Bundesrat resolution . . . calls for the "stimulation of emission-free mobility", which could come in the form of buying incentives similar to those already in place in many countries.
Now just this month things have really taken off. On July 6 France announced a "range of initiatives" intended to get rid of gasoline and diesel powered cars by 2040. From CNN, July 6:
The new French government wants to end sales of gas and diesel-powered vehicles by 2040 as it fights global warming. After that date, automakers will only be allowed to sell cars that run on electricity or other cleaner power. Hybrid cars will also be permitted. . . . The government outlined a range of initiatives to help reach its goal, including support for the development of alternative fuels such as electricity and hydrogen. It's also planning to finance new infrastructure for charging electric cars.
And a few short weeks later, it was the UK jumping on the bandwagon. From CNN, July 26:
Britain will ban sales of new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of a bid to clean up the country's air. The decision to phase out the internal combustion engine heralds a new era of low-emission technologies with major implications for the auto industry, society and the environment. "We can't carry on with diesel and petrol cars," U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove told the BBC on Wednesday. "There is no alternative to embracing new technology."
Nor is the wave confined to the government sector. Over in the seemingly private sector, Volvo moved to be the first automobile company to demonstrate its superior kowtowing sensabilities. From The Verge, July 5:
Volvo just announced plans to phase out gas-only car production by 2019, at which time all new Volvos will either be fully electric or electric hybrids.
The two obvious questions to ask are (1) How much will this cost consumers and taxpayers? and (2) Given that most electricity comes from the same fossil fuels that power combustion-engine cars, how much if any emissions will actually be saved?
Since this is Europe, you can be sure that no one is addressing question number one. The costs will be paid from the infinite pile of free government money, and will be deeply buried and hidden so that nobody will be able to figure out how much he or she is bearing. But question number two is actually getting some attention. Some annoying garden party skunk decided to address the issue of whether electric cars actually save any emissions in a recent article in Issues in Science and Technology, titled "Electric Vehicles: Climate Saviors, or Not?" No Tricks Zone gives the article a write-up on July 27. And what is the answer? The answer is that use of electric vehicles "effectively does nothing" to reduce emissions. From No Tricks Zone:
According to a new paper published in the journal Issues in Science and Technology entitled “Electric Vehicles: Climate Saviors, Or Not?”, driving an electric vehicle (EV) rather than a conventional petroleum-powered vehicle effectively does nothing to reduce global-scale CO2 emissions. This is because charging EVs on electricity grids that rely heavily on fossil fuel energy sources (coal) increases CO2 emissions.
The obvious problem is that most of the power on most of the world's electric grids comes from fossil fuels. Yes, if you happen to be using your electric car in France, which gets much of its electricity from nuclear sources, you can have a teensy effect on world emissions. (That is, until the French phase out their nuclear reactors, something about which there has been much talk of late.) And then there are countries like China (twenty times the population of France!) and Japan that get most of their electricity from coal:
[C]harging EVs on electricity grids that rely heavily on fossil fuel energy sources (coal) increases CO2 emissions. In coal-reliant countries like China and Japan, owning and driving EVs contribute significantly more to CO2 emissions than using petroleum-powered vehicles.
But aren't wind and solar power becoming ever bigger factors on the world's electricity grids? Actually, that's all meaningless show. The truth is the opposite:
The problem for CO2 mitigation and EV advocates is that fossil fuel-powered electricity grids are far more prevalent across the world. And this will continue to be the case as “1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries“, which will “expand the world’s coal-fired power capacity by 43 percent” (New York Times, July, 2017).
So what's the bottom line? "Negligible 4.9% Emissions Difference Between EVs And Petroleum Vehicles." At a deeply hidden cost of some tens or hundreds of billions of dollars.
But of course there is that frisson of excitement that the bureaucrat feels when exercising the raw power to order the people to pay $5000 or $10,000 more for each car to achieve absolutely nothing.