Are tech companies wrong to think electric cars are a solution to climate change?

Transport is one of the main issues to consider when the word ‘climate change’ is spoken.

Governments around the world are pushing to invest in cleaner, electric-powered vehicles to limit the ecological impact of our journeys.

New technology continues to be installed by car manufacturers as they fight each other to attract customers to invest their hard-earned money in their latest electric models.

However, Paris Marx, author of the book ‘Road to Nowhere’, argues that these car companies are making the wrong decisions when it comes to tech.

Transport shapes society

Our daily lives are often occupied by transport, as well as the way our cities are designed and built.

“It’s how we get around, it’s how we get to work, how we get to the shop, how we see the people that we care about,” said Marx.

And so, for them, the predominant mode of transport determines how we shape our streets, the location of businesses, workplaces and homes.

But more than that, transport also defines how we live.

Electric cars are not the solution

Vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines are being replaced – little by little- by tech companies, as they consider them too polluting. Taking their place are electric vehicles which have a much lower carbon footprint.

But keep in mind that lower doesn’t exactly mean zero.

While it’s true that fully electric vehicles do not emit waste products, the batteries that supply the energy to the vehicle are made of minerals like lithium and cobalt which have an impact on climate change.

Marx states: “In order to create an electric car, a lot of minerals need to be mined and much of that will continue to happen in the global south. And those mines have incredible environmental and health impacts in the places that they exist.”

Should the priority be to not replace every car with its electric equivalent but rather to rethink mobility in general?

“Placing so much focus on the automobile and even now the electric automobile is not the way that we solve our mobility problems, but rather it’s time to invest in transit, in cycling, in walkable cities, to get people out of cars altogether,” Marx states.

Changes need to be fair

In Marx’ view, change is needed to ensure a better future for our planet, and for that change to be beneficial to our society as a whole, it must be done fairly.

We need to understand that the transportation of our mobility is part of a set of changes that are necessary, in order to do this.

Marx states: “The mobility system is one piece of this, but we also need to pay attention to how it’s in conversation with other systems within the city to ensure that the policies that we take to improve transportation are equitable for everyone, and not just the people who can afford to live in the areas where those improvements are made.”

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