The Big Brave Pushback

The Big Brave Pushback

In the UK, the 2030 ban on sales on new ICE has upset a few powerful people.

In 2020 the British parliament passed legislation that stipulated by 2030, no new cars with internal combustion engines could be sold in the UK.

Any vehicle with a combustion engine on the road at or after 2030 will not be affected, they can still be driven. You will still be able to buy 2nd and 3rd hand ICE vehicles until there are none left.

Drivers can also continue to buy new ‘plug in hybrid’ vehicles until 2035, but after that, as the current law stands, you will not be able to buy any vehicle with a combustion engine of any sort.

That ruling includes vans, and there is pending legislation around trucks and heavy road haulage.

I repeat that legislation came into law in 2020, and now, suddenly in 2023, it is as if this legislation happened last week. The newspapers are bursting with anti EV, and anti 2030 ban stories.

This has been planned a long time by various well funded lobby groups and ignorant reactionary journalists. I defend the oil industries right to fund their lobbyists, fund political parties.

I defend the right of the shills and lazy journalists to spread misinformation and cut and paste ludicrous claims sent them by the various lobby groups and PR companies working for the powerful, globally dominant fossil fuel industry.

But it’s the strange role British politics play here that interests me.

This legislation was instigated, voted on and passed by one of the most right wing governments this country has experienced since the Victorian era.

It was not put in place by a load of Just Stop Oil activists or eco warriors, it was pushed through by right wing capitalists who, I assume, had a rudimentary understanding of what the world was facing.

And yet there are more than a few men on Twitter, British ones with Union Jacks next to their usernames who are suddenly fountains of knowledge about the global energy system, with intimate understanding of national generating capacity for every country on the planet.

I made the classic mistake of doom scrolling a white supremacist Brit with no less than 3 George Cross flag emojis next to his name.

All the usual stuff you might expect, he hated Muslims, gays and probably women. But he also had a healthy dose of ‘start fracking,’ ‘wind turbines don’t work,’ ‘stop the 2030 ban,’ ‘drive a diesel, it’s good for Britain.’

I know I’m being politically thick, I totally understand the hatred of non white people, that’s the same old boring stuff some thankfully rare white men love to shout about.

I can understand ‘stop all immigration now’ and ‘send them all back,’ slogans, nothing new there either. I remember hearing that shouted in the 1960’s.

But the sudden passionate opposition to renewables and the enthusiasm for burning imported fuel, where does that trope come from?

Why are electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels seen as ‘left wing.’

Since when is any energy source political.

I’m opposed to burning coal and opening new oil fields, but I don’t think oil and coal are right wing. They’re just stuff.

Are rocks political, trees, grass?

Now I have to say this particular chap was a rabid racist, ultra fanatical right wing fringe nutcase antivaxer etc etc.

And yet it was a right wing, pro Brexit, ultra conservative government who passed this legislation and voted it into law. I cannot stress or repeat that enough.

And anyone who openly supports this ban is a ‘lefty’ or some similar dated and tired old term. To counter this I predict that if there is a Labour victory at the next UK election they are just as likely to delay or rescind this legislation as the current gaggle of no-hopers clinging to power.

Only recently the leader of the Labour Party said he ‘hated tree huggers.’

Maybe someone should explain to Sir Kier Starmer that the term ‘tree hugger’ comes direct from the extreme right wing phrase book along with ‘woke’ and ‘virtue signalling’ and a host of other limp and dated epithets.

But outside this weird quagmire of tribal chest thumping and flag waving, there is a genuinely exciting shift in outlook.

Yes, the 2030 ban may be in great jeopardy but in the grand sweep of technological development and history, it really doesn’t matter.

This is particularly apparent in the companies who actually make cars. Give an engineer a really difficult problem and they rub their hands in glee. Many big car manufacturers you’ve heard of, okay, except Toyota at the moment, are going all in on an electric only future.

Of course the big Chinese manufacturers and Tesla are way ahead at the moment, but maybe that’s not for long.

Of course we need a huge shift in the way we live in cities, less cars, more and better public transport, more and safer cycling and walking. Clean air is a natural byproduct of this change, just like toxic, filthy air is a natural byproduct of having millions of fossil burners clogging up our living space.

None of the recent slew of negative press stories mention how battery technology is developing so fast any opinion about batteries today is going to be irrelevant tomorrow.

None of them mention the global blight that extracting, refining and burning oil has on all our lives. That is a static fact, we all know, or we should know about this damage, it’s not getting better, combustion cars aren’t getting better. They are in stasis as regards improvement and development, I don’t care what anyone says.

In contrast, the technology around electric ground transport is developing at a dizzying rate.

The efficiency, size and weight of electric motors is improving, the software which is critical to how well an electric vehicle operates is constantly updating and improving.

The charging infrastructure is improving, becoming more reliable, more ubiquitous.

Of course there are huge challenges, it’s a complicated and endlessly compromised shift away from endlessly, thoughtlessly and carelessly burning fossil fuel as we have done for 150 years.

But it is happening and it is unstoppable, and while the frankly dull as ditchwater naysayers scream their hysterical heads off saying we’re all doomed and burning liquid fuel is the ONLY answer, behind the scenes there is a far superior technology emerging.

One that actually is more sustainable, less damaging to us as human beings using material we dig up, refine and use again and again.

Rather than dig up, refine and burn once, for a millisecond, and then tell people this is sensible and sustainable.

Robert Llewellyn