U.K. Government’s Net Zero Review Claims Car-Shaped Electric Cars Reduce Congestion – Forbes

Electric cars are heavier than gasoline-fuelled cars but tend to have roughly similar dimensions and, when driven at over 15 mph, are just as loud. It’s odd, then, for a U.K. government commissioned report to claim that electric cars “can reduce noise and congestion.”

The claim was made today in the otherwise factually-based Mission Zero report, a net zero review authored by Chris Skidmore MP, the former energy minister who was responsible for signing the U.K.’s net zero commitment into law in June 2019.

The 340 page report, released January 13, makes 129 recommendations covering areas including the greater role that business can be supported to play, making better use of infrastructure and delivering more energy efficient homes.

“We should be proud of the lead the U.K. has taken in tackling climate change, having exceeded expectations so far in our race to net zero emissions by 2050,” said Skidmore, the government’s unofficial “net zero tsar.”

His report—politely but firmly damning of the government’s net zero progress—praises electric vehicles saying they “can reduce noise and congestion and provide more reliable and affordable services.”

An increasing number of England’s 32 million cars are battery-powered but they are not shorter or narrower than cars powered by internal combustion engines. In 2021, a RAC Foundation report said that cars were taking up an increasing amount of space. The motoring organization found that cars are now a third fatter than in 1965.

“As well as cars having got bigger there are also many more of them,” said an RAC Foundation statement.

“In 1965 there were just 7.7 million cars on Britain’s roads. In 1995 there were 21.4 million. Today there are 31.7 million.”

The motoring organization stated that the top five bestselling cars in the U.K. in 1965 had an average width of 1.5m. Now the top five sellers have ballooned to 1.8m wide on average, sagging over parking spaces designed for narrower cars.

An academic report funded by the U.K. government in 2019 argued that use of electric cars has the potential to increase car use and therefore would lead to more congestion, as well as a more unhealthy society with greater prevalence of obesity.

Shifting the focus: energy demand in a net-zero carbon UK was produced by the Center for Research into Energy Demand Solutions (CREDS), a consortium of 40 academics at 13 U.K. institutions.

The CREDS report argues that continued car dependency, electric or otherwise, will lead to “more urban sprawl, inactive lifestyles and congestion.”

It added: “Relying mainly on electrification of vehicles to reach carbon targets can have the consequence of increasing traffic congestion because of the lower cost and lower taxation of electric fuel.”


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