The Government’s Chief Science Adviser laid out a path to tackling global warming yesterday that included eating less meat, cycling to work and flying less. But he said the idea that everyone should buy an electric vehicle was “totally impossible”.
He told the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee: “It’s all very well to talk about buying an electric car, but it’s totally impossible for the vast majority of the population.”
However he did say that a reduction in the cost of electric vehicles and an improvement in charging infrastructure meant ownership was on the rise.
He added: “Individuals need to know what is expected of them and that means making the green choice the easy choice.”
He also claimed that global warming will kill more people than the Covid pandemic if ‘behavioural changes’ are not made immediately.
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The scientific adviser added that it was “inarguable” that behaviour change was needed to reach net-zero emissions and stressed that technology was “unlikely” to ride to the rescue in time for the 2050 deadline, “because it would need to have been invented already”.
The Government has banned the sale of any cars that aren’t electric after the end of this decade and last month announced huge investment in charging infrastructure.
Sales of EVs are up more than 80 percent on last year, and more were sold in 2021 than the previous five years combined.
But there are still concerns that the UK won’t be ready to meet the needs of the huge increase in the number of EVs on the roads.
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At the current rate of sales there will be around 18 million EVs on the roads by the end of the decade, but less than a quarter of the number of chargers needed to power them.
With a required ratio of 1,176 charge points per 100km the current rate of installations would result in a massive deficit by the time the ban comes in at the end of the decade.
In fact less than a quarter of the number needed would be managed by 2030.
The development of UK charging infrastructure is reportedly slow because it faces challenges including a lack of materials and not enough skilled employees.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions in the supply chain network, resulting in the shortage of essential components for making EV chargers.
There is also a shortage of technicians in the automotive industry with the necessary skills to maintain or repair EVs and charging systems.
The Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) revealed last year that only 6.5 percent of the entire automotive industry workforce was ready for the switch to EVs.
And only five percent of the workforce in garages is qualified to handle EVs and hybrids.
That would suggest that aside from not enough chargers, there is also a huge lack of knowledge in those needed to maintain EVs.
Due to the pandemic, in 2020 there was an 85 percent decline in the number of certificates issued for working on EVs.
Plus unlike petrol stations, charging points aren’t manned, meaning any faults have to be flagged by drivers.
There is also about to be a large upturn in the number of EVs available as manufacturers release 12 months worth of orders once supply issues ease.
That means EV sales are likely to beat even the records set in 2021.