But opinions stuck in the mud
Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash
It wasn’t long ago when the thought of a large cappuccino with a dusting of chocolate or perhaps a pot of green tea in mixed company was unthinkable.
I assumed everyone present around the table had been vaccinated, boosted and probably experienced the dreaded it, if me and Mrs H were anything to go by.
It, wasn’t a topic of conversation and everyone seemed comfortable, relaxed, even happy. There were no masks hanging off ears, a return to normal, just like the old days, pre-pandemic (and pre-Russian invasion).
At some point there’d been a lull in the conversation and I decided to enlighten my audience, with experiences of ordering a plant based food service - Grubby, the company mentioned recently. I must still be excited about my astute decision to purchase and saw this as another opportunity to show off in front of new found acquaintances.
“It’s good for me and the environment,” I concluded.
Polite conversation followed with a question or two, but there was clearly no one teetering on the brink, frustrated with their addiction to meat and struggling to find a way to let go. The conversation moved on but with a slant in the direction of the environment and climate change.
I found myself listening to a person I barely knew, delivering opinions as cast iron facts. An affliction which mostly seems to affect men in my experience. I was surprised by the amount of general nodding in agreement. Perhaps like me, it was all being taken with a large pinch of salt. It would have been rude to do otherwise, although I couldn’t resist an urge to chuck in a reminder about offspring and future generations, knowing that our pontificator, had at least one child. Any subtle or otherwise insinuation about being an irresponsible parent is sure to raise hackles. Did I manage a tiny flicker of something less than an amiable smile at one point? Perhaps.
I was slightly surprised about some of those facts, surprised enough to do more research and check a few alternative expert sources for the agreed truth. After all, I could be the one being hoodwinked. Whatever I discovered, it was only right to share my findings here with you.
I also sensed from the conversation that others do not appear to be vaguely caught up in the whole climate change epoch and the need to do anything. On the contrary, acting would appear to be a radical view, one to be carefully filed away next to crackpots in the Flat Earth Society.
Cop 26 was a grand event in Glasgow, vaguely disturbing the headlines for a week or two, now long forgotten.
If my pontificator’s behaviour was to be believed, the best course of action was to conveniently ignore climate change and have an opinion or two which provides good reason why their lifestyle and behaviour shouldn’t be compromised. It’s not that they’re against alternatives, it’s just that the right technology hasn’t arrived yet.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are no greener than internal combustion engine ones (ICEs)
It’s a sweeping statement which is almost entirely false. EVs produce nearly three times less CO2 emissions than an ICE.
If, however, your battery was manufactured in China and the vehicle was driven in Poland, it would only emit 22% less CO2 than a diesel and 28% less than a petrol. But if the battery was manufactured in Sweden and driven there it would emit 80% less CO2.
How green is your EV depends on whether your charging station is providing renewable electricity. In Europe, 58% of all electricity is carbon neutral and that’s only going to get better.
So where does the grain of truth come from? It’s in the production process of an average EV which results in 15% more emissions than a petrol vehicle, which is why manufactures are already pushing to use recycled materials and decrease lifecycle emissions.
Batteries are bad for the environment and end up in landfill
No they don’t because they’re far too valuable. After a 10 year lifecycle in an EV, they can be used to support renewable energy production, storing electricity temporarily for the grid as weather fluctuations occur. They contain valuable components like cobalt, lithium, copper and aluminium which will be harvested for future use. The reliance on these critical raw materials will also wane with advances in battery technology and how they’re produced.
Hydrogen fuelled vehicles is the way forward
This fact also came with the caveat that EVs were barking up the wrong tree. Other suitable idioms apply.
I’ve talked about JCB before, the big yellow digger lot, and how they hope to replace their love for diesel with liquid hydrogen. It makes refreshing sense. If you want heavy plant material to be working 16 hours a day, an environmentally friendly liquid fuel is a better solution than a battery. The latter adds unnecessary weight and has to be recharged at regular intervals, which leads to too much valuable downtime.
For trucks, buses, ships and aircraft which need to run for long periods of the day and night, hydrogen sounds promising. But hydrogen is not a primary fuel, it has to be made which is why there are multiple colourful variants, green, blue and grey being the most common. Blue and grey both produce carbon dioxide the only difference is blue includes carbon capture. It means the production of green hydrogen on an industrial scale using electrolysis needs to be dramatically ramped up.
There’s another practical issue for the hydrogen car, you can’t refuel at home and there are only 14 hydrogen refilling stations in the UK open to the public. Nearly all hydrogen production today is grey, so about as environmentally friendly as petrol and hydrogen fuel cell cars are more expensive to manufacture.
UK oil should be allowed to keep its profits and not be subject to a proportionate windfall tax
The Chief Financial Officer of BP, told investors recently, “It’s possible that we’re getting more cash than we know what to do with.” BP reported profits of $12.8bn and Shell $19.3bn and yet BP has paid no tax on North Sea oil and gas for 5 years. They also try and justify it on the basis of heavy investment into becoming low carbon companies, maintaining and creating new jobs. If only that were true. The International Energy Agency has highlighted that investment in clean energy by oil and gas companies is about 1% of their capital expenditure in 2020 and likely to be no more than 4% in 2021. The figures make depressing reading. Their commitment to further exploration in the North Sea, likely to get government approval, won’t help the British public with their energy bills and the vastness of the investment planned globally, can never be realised, if they believe that global warming must be limited to 1.5C.
In a week where war in Europe should be a thing of the past, I’m grateful and lucky to have the opportunity to write and share freely without condemnation, censorship or altogether something worse. Thank you for reading.
Ive passed the security check!
Thanks for this Andrew...I read it before returning to a complicated piece of writing on women, land and poverty on an irrigation scheme in Egypt that delivers highly polluted water to the poorest, affecting their health and the health of the crops and soil directly. I am having to make the most basic of cases about why women suffer most, how the donors are targeting the wrong problems etc so I share your frustration at the arguments raised by your companions about carbon etc.
But how depressing to read given that they will all be highly educated professionals I imagine.
The wilful ignoring of strong validated data in order to justify doing nothing has now become a default in much of our society I fear and I know that I need to spend more time with people really researching, thinking and engaging with the reality- that we are a country contributing so much to global warming because of our privileges and lifestyle and the way we produce etc.
I can't have the same empty arguments too many times so well done for coping!