Do we really need to put ocean ecosystems at risk in order to transition to a renewable-energy economy? Proponents of deep-sea mining claim that the as-yet-untested practice is the best means of supplying minerals like cobalt, lithium, nickel, copper, vanadium and indium used in electric vehicles, storage batteries and other green technologies.
But a new article published in Frontiers in Marine Science on Thursday challenges this view. The team of experts from the University of Exeter, Greenpeace Research Laboratories and Globelaw instead says that human societies can both preserve marine biodiversity and eschew fossil fuels by making different choices about how new technologies are designed and used.
"If businesses, researchers and members of the public work collaboratively we have the means to achieve a future in which technology can be designed and manufactured to be sustainable and not involve extracting additional non-renewable resources," study lead author Kathryn Miller told EcoWatch in an email. "It will require changes in behaviour but it is possible."
Thursday's paper builds on two previous studies from the same research team considering the risks of mining minerals from the sea bed. The first, published in 2018, focused on the environmental risks posed by disturbing ecosystems where many species are still unknown to science. The second, also from 2018, looked at how the deep sea bed should be governed and regulated for the benefit of all people, not just the profit of wealthy corporations in the global North. The new paper also addresses these issues, but emphasizes how the green transition might proceed without seabed minerals.
Specifically, the researchers considered the case of electric vehicle batteries.
"[T]he point we make in the paper is that estimates of future demand for minerals... always depend on a set of assumptions about how we will live and which technologies will be available," study co-author David Santillo told EcoWatch in an email, "and we have to remember that neither of those things are fixed."
For one thing, those projections assume the use of the current lithium-ion battery that incorporates cobalt or nickel. However, there are already alternatives either in use or in development, such as Svolt's cobalt-free lithium-ion car battery or Tesla's lithium-ion phosphate batteries.
For another, mineral needs depend on the sustainability of both transportation systems and technological design. A move away from a one-person-one-car model and towards improved metal recycling could significantly reduce the demand for novel mineral resources.
"I challenge the assumption that we need to continue producing and consuming technological products at the rate at which we have become accustomed over the past decade or more," Miller said. "For example, I think that the premise that it will be necessary to replace every 'conventional' petrol or diesel car with an electric car is not forward thinking or sustainable – it will not solve the problems we are beginning to see in terms of resource availability, energy use and congestion in towns and cities."
The reason that the necessity of deep-sea mining is such an important question is because of what is at stake if the practice goes ahead.
"Any commercial deep-sea mining activity at any scale will cause irreversible damage to deep-sea ecosystems," Miller said. "Recovery of species in deep-sea habitats is extremely slow – centuries or millennia in many cases."
If mining occurs, species could be harmed by noise and light pollution, habitat fragmentation and sediment plumes that could spread for hundreds of kilometers.
In addition, scientists don't yet know all of the species that exist in deep-sea ecosystems, or how deep-sea animals like cold water corals, crabs and shrimps would be impacted. They also don't know how closely deep water ecosystems are connected to the rest of the ocean.
Furthermore, the practice could threaten many of the ecosystem services that the ocean provides to human communities. There are fish species that spawn in seamount ecosystems, and cultures that consider ocean life to be sacred. While deep-sea mining may be justified based on the need to shift the energy system away from fossil fuels, it could actually harm the ocean's ability to help us fight climate change by threatening its ability to sequester carbon, though again more research is needed to understand exactly what the consequences of mining would be on the carbon cycle.
"There is certainly the potential for the disturbance of deep-sea sediments by mining to disrupt their role in storing and locking away carbon over long time-scales, thereby putting more carbon into open cycles in ecosystems (including into seawater and the atmosphere) and harming the processes by which those sediments normally act as carbon sinks," Santillo said.
The paper comes at an urgent moment in the debate over whether or not deep-sea mining should proceed. At the end of June, the island nation of Nauru announced plans to start mining, as The Guardian reported at the time. This triggered something called the "two-year rule," which gives the UN's International Seabed Authority two years to finalize regulations for the practice.
Nauru is acting on behalf of Canadian mining company DeepGreen, which hopes to mine nodules containing manganese, nickel and cobalt for electric vehicles. On the other side stand more than 530 marine science and policy experts, business leaders and conservation groups like WWF who are calling for a global moratorium on deep-sea mining until its impacts can be more fully researched and understood.
Such a global pause would make it impossible for anyone to be granted a license to mine, mirroring the global moratorium on whaling or mining in Antarctica. WWF's senior global ocean governance and policy expert Jessica Battle told EcoWatch that Nauru's ultimatum made such a moratorium "even more imperative."
"It has happened before and it can happen again," Battle said.
While so far no nation has stood up in the proper forum and called for a global pause, Battle has hope that this will happen before the two-year clock stops ticking, in part because there are so many new studies coming out warning about mining's potential impacts on the ocean. While many polluting industries are well into the process of eradicating species and altering Earth systems, deep-sea mining is still only an idea.
"This one we can actually be smart as a society to prevent from the beginning," Battle said, "so why the rush?"
Miller and Santillo said they also supported a moratorium on the practice, but ultimately their paper argued for changing how decisions about Earth's resources are made. This means recognizing "Rights of Nature," considering the ocean itself as an entity with rights rather than a resource to be used.
"A true transition from ownership to guardianship of the natural world could include a Rights of Nature approach to the ocean, rather than only considering the benefits that it may deliver to a small percentage of the global population," the study authors wrote.
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- Deep-Sea Study Records Species Found Nowhere Else on Earth ... ›
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- David Attenborough Calls For Ban on Deep-Sea Mining - EcoWatch ›
If you care about the planet, you're likely seeking ways to make environmentally responsible purchases. But, all your efforts to buy from companies that boast of making better choices for the environment might not have the benefit you believe.
In short, you might be falling victim to greenwashing. This shady advertising strategy is becoming a buzzword today, but what does greenwashing mean? Here, we'll explore how to spot and avoid the common signs of greenwashing so you can make more informed buying decisions.
What Is Greenwashing?
"Greenwashing" is a common marketing ploy designed to make products seem more sustainable than they are. It's essentially a way to convince customers that a company is making positive environmental choices, often through eco-conscious verbiage designed to convince shoppers that the product is more natural, wholesome, or free of toxins than competitors.
The term was first coined in the 1980s in an essay by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. In this essay, he criticized the hotel industry's "save your towel" movement for preying on guests' environmental sensibilities. While this movement was disguised as a way for guests to help hotels conserve water and save the planet, it essentially only cut down on laundry labor expenses for the hotel and made a minimal difference in water usage.
In this way, companies use greenwashing to appeal to customers who care about the environment without having to make meaningful changes in their business practices. It's typical for greenwashing companies to spend far more time and money marketing the "eco-friendliness" of their products than on working to ensure they are sustainable.
Why is greenwashing so prevalent today? In short — because it works. A 2015 Nielson poll found that two-thirds of shoppers are willing to pay more for eco-friendly goods and that half consider a product's sustainability before deciding whether to purchase.
Greenwashing's Impact on Us
Protesters carry a banner while marching during an Extinction Rebellion demonstration outside in London. Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Greenwashing might sound harmless, but the reality is far worse. One problem is that it confuses consumers and distracts from actual eco-friendly initiatives.
Not all companies practice greenwashing maliciously. Often, it's as much a misunderstanding on the marketers' end as it is for customers. Even so, unintentional greenwashing still spreads false information about what it takes to be sustainable and can convince well-meaning customers to make bad choices.
Greenwashing and Single-Use Plastics
One prominent example of the problem with greenwashing is single-use plastics. More than 90% of plastic produced today is not recycled. Worse, much of it eventually lands in the ocean, where some estimate it will outweigh fish by 2050.
In light of these facts, many companies are working hard to change the reputation around their plastic products and boost consumer enthusiasm for them. Bioplastics give a potent example. Made from bio-based polymers instead of petrochemicals, this material is often considered good for the planet because it can break down thousands of years faster than traditional plastics. But what isn't as commonly known is that these "natural" plastics need highly specific conditions to decompose that involve access to oxygen and sunlight — both of which are scarce in landfills.
Furthermore, many require the use of other plastics in the manufacturing process or even embedded within them to hold different components together. The benefits of using these materials are middling at best, which has led the FTC to challenge manufacturers on their misleading claims about their environmental impacts.
Single-use plastic water bottles have an even worse legacy. In 2008, Nestle came under fire by Canadian environmental groups for erroneously advertising that its bottled water benefited the environment with claims that "bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world."
The same brand later introduced "Eco-Shape" bottles it advertised as containing up to 30% less plastic. A closer reading revealed this savings wasn't compared to other versions of the product or even other water bottles, but instead of all forms of plastic bottles, including the much thicker bottles used for juice.
Other brands try to gain eco-friendly credibility in more subtle ways. Many labels include images of pristine mountain ranges or other green features to invoke a sense of purity and abundance without any manufacturing practices to back this up.
What Does Greenwashing Look Like?
Extinction Rebellion protesters dressed as 'Greenwash Busters' outside the Science Museum in South Kensington, during a protest. Vuk Valcic / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Greenwashing has evolved since the 1980s, and it's becoming harder to spot to the untrained eye. Here are some of the signs to watch for when determining whether a brand is guilty of greenwashing.
Selective Disclosure: Companies often highlight positive environmental facts about their products while intentionally avoiding any mention of the negative. For example, an auto manufacturer might praise a vehicle's fuel efficiency while ignoring the environmentally destructive mining practices involved in producing its lithium battery.
Symbolic Actions: It's standard practice for brands to draw attention to a minor positive action that does little to change its overall environmental footprint. Oil companies donating Dawn dish soap to clean infected animals after their own product spills in the ocean is one example.
Hidden Trade-Offs: Brands may advertise a new change as green while ignoring its negative effects. For example, Starbucks introduced straw-free lids to avoid wasting plastic, but these new lids used more plastic than before.
Lack of Proof: The company may make claims about its eco-friendliness ("made with organic materials!") without sharing certifications or other evidence to back them up.
Vagueness: Brands can greenwash by making broad statements filled with buzzwords about their sustainability that are too vague to mean anything. Examples include 'new and improved, 'non-toxic,' and 'made with biodegradable materials.' Or, the package around a plastic toy might be labeled "recyclable" without making it clear whether it's referring to the package, the toy, or minor components of either.
Irrelevance: Companies greenwash products by making claims that are technically true but irrelevant to their environmental impact. Examples are a paper company that boasts its products contain "all-natural materials" (most paper does) or an aerosol spray advertised as "CFC-free" (CFCs have been illegal in the US since 1978). This can also apply to trash bags labeled "recyclable," as the entire purpose of these bags is to end up in the trash. The label implies an environmental benefit that would only be realized if users emptied their trash bags, rinsed them out, and then added them to the recycling after use.
Lesser of Two Evils: This happens when companies promote one beneficial aspect of an otherwise damaging product. Examples include fuel-efficient SUVs or Walmart getting sued for misrepresenting the benefits of "biodegradable" plastic bottles.
Meaningless Labels: Many brands hide behind meaningless "greenspeak" that sounds impressive but doesn't have any official weight behind it. Examples include phrases like "made with natural ingredients" instead of showing USDA organic certification or saying "vegan approved" instead of showing the product is PETA-certified vegan.
Overinflated Phrases: Greenwashing companies may use phrases that, while technically true, give the consumer a skewed perception of the products they are buying. For example, an apparel company may state its shirts are "now made with 50% more recycled fibers" when increasing the amount from 2% to 3% of the total garment. True, but overstated as a benefit.
Suggestive Imagery: Sometimes, all it takes to greenwash is to market products in visually pleasing packaging. A tissue company might adorn its box with green leaves to imply the paper was harvested sustainably without mentioning that fact on the packaging. Some brands go so far as to incorporate small images that look like official logos for environmental certifications but are actually meaningless.
Corporate Examples of Greenwashing
Greenwashing has started to gain media attention in recent years. What large companies have been accused of greenwashing? Here are some noteworthy examples.
Many car manufacturers give lip service to green transportation by improving their vehicles' fuel efficiency or using recycled materials for the cars' interior.
Some, like General Motors, also support the idea of tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles and have bold goals to only produce cars with zero tailpipe emissions by 2035. However, GM's CEO, Mary Barra, is on the board of directors for Business Roundtable, an organization that lobbied hard against the climate initiatives presented in the Reconciliation Bill. In other words, the company is lobbying hard against the laws regulating emission standards they have publicly committed to meet.
Other companies are less discrete. In one notable case, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on its vehicles' emissions tests by fitting cars with "defeat" devices to alter performance and reduce emissions when under testing conditions — all while the vehicles emitted up to 40 times the allowed limit of nitrogen oxide in real-world situations.
This global tech giant strives to have a positive public perception as a green company. However, many of the company's "green" policies serve only to save money. The company announced in 2020 that its iPhone 12 would ship out without earbuds or a wall charger in order to cut down on e-waste.
While this measure is a step in the right direction, many critics saw it merely as a way to deflect attention to the company's real source of e-waste — planned obsolescence. The brand's phones are notorious for being expensive to repair and stop being supported by developers only a few years after release.
As one of the most influential retailers worldwide, Amazon sets the standard for many global green initiatives. In recent years, the company has come under fire for making public proclamations about doing better for the environment, but quietly supporting legislation that undermines these efforts.
Amazon won the naming rights for a stadium in Seattle, which it named the "Climate Pledge Arena" in honor of it being the world's first net-zero carbon certified arena. The company itself signed a Climate Pledge in 2019 with a public goal of hitting net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. However, this Pledge failed to show the concrete steps the company would take for this goal. Worse, the fine print showed it only covered Amazon's direct operations rather than the carbon footprint of its supply chain, which accounted for more than 75% of the company's emissions.
The company has also introduced a "Climate Pledge Friendly" badge on products that are certified Fair Trade, certified by the Rainforest Alliance, or other environmental certifications. However, some of the products earning this designation are clearly not eco-friendly, including single-use batteries, disposable baby wipes, and food products that contain palm oil sourced from endangered rainforests.
While Shein may be known as the quintessential online storefront for fast fashion, the company has been working to change its reputation for creating disposable clothing.
In one recent campaign, Shein highlighted its small-batch release process of just 50-100 items per style at a time to ensure there is demand before committing to large-scale production. The company also mentions its environmentally-conscious fabric printing process, automated water and power use in warehouses and incentivized clothing recycling programs at college campuses.
However, these claims are all unsubstantiated and the company shows little evidence of third-party verification for them. By using phrases like "we do our best to source recycled fabrics," Shein can imply good intent without any follow-through. Vague claims without real numbers or documentation attached to them mean that Shein's sustainability page uses many words to say very little.
Green Marketing vs. Greenwashing: What's the Difference?
Looking at case studies of greenwashing corporations, it's easy to assume that every company that claims to do right by the environment is hiding the truth. In reality, many businesses are making strides to make environmentally conscious choices, and their advertising campaigns reflect this. This is known as green marketing.
Here are some of the signs of a green product:
- Products are manufactured sustainably
- Items arrive with minimal packaging
- Free of toxic materials
- Able to be recycled or made from recycled materials
- Made with biodegradable materials
- Designed to be repaired or reused
- The company offers an end-of-life program for its products (i.e., a recycling program)
Patagonia: A Case Study for Green Marketing
Demand Fair Trade sticker seen in the Patagonia store window in Dublin city center on March 13, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. Artur Widak / NurPhoto / Getty Images
One company renowned for its green marketing strategy is Patagonia. As a certified B corporation, Patagonia exceeds stringent standards for sustainability and worker's rights, including Fair Trade certification for many products. Likewise, all retail stores, distribution centers, offices, and the brand's headquarters are powered by 100% renewable energy.
Regarding it's clothing, Patagonia uses 87 percent recycled materials, many of which are Bluesign certified for sustainable production. The brand also adopts a "cradle to grave" approach to its apparel line by sourcing recycled or ecologically sound materials and offering a lifetime repair guarantee for any product sent to them. Anything deemed not repairable is sustainably recycled. It's even possible to trade in used gear or purchase lightly used clothing directly from Patagonia through the company's Worn Wear program.
Perhaps most notably, Patagonia made waves on Black Friday in 2011 by running an ad in the New York Times boldly asking readers not to buy their best-selling jacket. Within the ad, the company shared the true environmental cost of producing it and similar clothing and encouraged readers to enjoy what they already owned before needlessly buying more.
The campaign succeeded by showing potential customers that the brand was in the business for more than profits and that it prioritized the quality and longevity of its clothing.
How to Avoid Greenwashing
How can you determine which brands are following the footsteps of Patagonia and which are guilty of greenwashing? There are a few signs to watch for when learning how you can avoid greenwashing.
According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, some of the best ways to identify green marketing over greenwashing include the following:
- Look for packaging that explains a product's positive environmental impact in plain language without using hype phrases.
- The marketing claims should be clear on whether they refer to the packaging, the product itself, or a portion of either.
- The marketing language doesn't overstate or imply a more significant environmental benefit than it could deliver.
- When the product compares itself to another brand, it shows evidence to substantiate it.
- Seek out products with trusted third-party certifications, such as USDA certified organic, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Carbon Trust Standard (for verified CO2 emissions).
For the long-term, consider advocating for clearer marketing regulations that would ban common greenwashing practices by making companies better substantiate any eco-friendly claims they make. This will increase transparency between brands and ensure that improving their environmental footprint becomes a viable way to compete.
"Going green" sells. Companies are capitalizing on the movement by advertising as many eco-benefits for their products as possible — even when these claims get stretched beyond the point of believability. Do your part to keep corporations accountable by calling out greenwashing when you see it and by giving your money to brands that do better.
By understanding greenwashing and learning to identify its signs, we can hold companies accountable and ensure those doing right by the planet stand out for their choices. This will bring the entire marketplace to a higher standard and help us all make better buying choices.
Lydia Noyes is a freelance writer specializing in health and wellness, food and farming, and environmental topics. When not working against a writing deadline, you can find Lydia outdoors where she attempts to bring order to her 33-acre hobby farm filled with fruit trees, heritage breed pigs, too many chickens to count, and an organic garden that somehow gets bigger every year.
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Riding a bicycle is one of the most sustainable ways to get around. If you need a little more oomph than legs allow, an e-bike conversion kit is a great way to supercharge your pedal bike with electricity.
Whether you're plugging in to renewable energy sources or drawing from a conventional electric grid, electric bike kits produce far fewer emissions than fossil fuel-powered alternatives and allow you to keep your old bike you know and love.
An e-bike conversion kit makes use of your existing bike frame by replacing your standard tire or pedals with a motorized hub. Here are the best e-bike kits on the market today.
Best Electric Bike Kits
When choosing the best e-bike conversion kits, we considered elements including ease of installation, power output, ease of control, design, extra features, cost, customer reviews and more. Based on these factors, these are the top e-bike kits on the market.
|Best E-Bike Conversion Kits||Our Award||Buy Now|
Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit
|Best Overall||Check Price|
48V 500W Front Hub Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit
|Best Front-Wheel Conversion Kit||Check Price|
26" Rear Wheel Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit
|Best Rear-Wheel Conversion Kit||Check Price|
8FUN BBS01B 36V 250W Mid Drive Motor Conversion Kit
|Best Mid-Drive System||Check Price|
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
Best Overall: Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit
The Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit offers a solid, feature-packed motorized wheel hub unit to easily convert any pedal bike into a hybrid e-bike powerhouse. A weatherproof design and powerful 1,200W motor mean you can take electric propulsion anywhere your adventures take you, from street to trail.
The Ebikeling is packed with plug-and-play features like cruise control, pedal-assist mode and all of the parts needed to hook up to your bike and a battery. We especially like the multiple throttle options this unit offers, including front thumb, rear thumb and front twist. An LCD display gives you essential information on battery levels, speed, error codes and more right on your handlebar. The only downsides to this awesome package are you'll need to purchase a separate tire and battery (48V or 52V is recommended), and it's expensive.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 160 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit is powerful enough to tackle the toughest trails and subtle enough to cruise city streets. Simple installation and intuitive operation make this a hands-down best performer for e-bike conversion kits. If you have the budget to buy a battery (not included), the Ebikeling conversion kit is as deserving on your favorite bike as it is at the top of our list.
Best Front-Wheel Conversion Kit: Bafang 48V 500W Front Hub Motor Electric Bike Conversion Kit
Surprisingly simple to install and use, the Bafang 48V 500W Front Hub Conversion Kit is easy on the wallet and your mechanic skills. We love the multiple battery options this product offers, and a wide offering of rim sizes means you'll never find a bike that can't be e-converted. The waterproof motor and connectors make this a great front-end, go anywhere conversion kit.
The Bafang kit replaces your standard brake levers with units that communicate with the motor, but if you want to keep your hydraulic brakes, just let Bafang know in your order, and the company will ship you a brake sensor instead. Also, while this front-motor drive is designed for disk brake rims, if your bike has a V brake, Bafang's got you covered — just let the company know via email, and it'll make sure you get the right rim.
Customer Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars with about 60 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: The sticker price may shock you at first glance, but don't be fooled: Other cheaper options don't include the battery, nor come close to matching Bafang's quality and performance. The Bafang 48V 500W conversion kit is the best front hub conversion assembly that's truly ready to go out of the box.
Best Rear-Wheel Conversion Kit: Voilamart 26" Rear Wheel Electric Bicycle Conversion Kit
Voilamart makes top-shelf e-bike performance attainable for your old velocipede with a capable 1,500W electric motor and envelope-pushing quality, and the waterproof motor kit and connectors mean you can take that 1,500W of power anywhere.
Unlike other models listed here, the Voilamart comes with a pre-installed nylon tire, sparing you the hassle of self-installation or a trip to the shop. The LCD display clearly indicates battery level, pedal assistance settings, speed and modes. Cyclists get excellent control over battery life with adjustable amp modes, but keep in mind there is no battery included — you'll need to purchase one separately.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with nearly 100 Amazon ratings
Why Buy: Voilamart's rear-wheel e-bike conversion kit offers a range of premium features at an attractive price point. The powerful motor offers enough juice to climb, splash and cruise through any terrain or street, and a wide range of modes allows great flexibility of battery life, speed and more. There are a few reported issues with design and the manual definitely needs a facelift, but most problems reported are fixed with a bit of patience and elbow grease. Overall, the Voilamart offers a compelling package at an even more compelling price point.
Best Mid-Drive System: Bafang 8FUN BBS01B 36V 250W Mid Drive Motor Conversion Kit
Balance, power and multifunctionality combine with the Bafang Mid Drive Motor conversion kit. With a few simple tools and a couple of hours, the Bafang mid-drive conversion kit replaces your existing crankset and shaft with a 250W motor ideal for cruising at moderate speeds and with light loads.
It can be installed on any road bike, mountain bike or cruising bike with a standard JIS 68-73mm bottom bracket, but isn't the best fit for rugged biking or high-speeds and shouldn't be used on fat-tire bikes or carbon frames. As far as riding modes go, the Bafang mid-drive kit is as simple as it gets with electric or pedal-only operation. Installation hardware and display are included, but the battery is sold separately.
Customer Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars with about 120 Amazon ratingsWhy Buy: The Bafang 8FUN BBS01B Mid Drive conversion kit honors your bike's center of gravity and aesthetics while providing the functionality and power of a hybrid motor conversion system. Bafang's mid-drive kit is a dream come true for urban commutes and light trail riding, but you might need something with a bit more pizzazz if you're hitting the mountains.
How to Choose the Best E-Bike Conversion Kit
As you can see, there are plenty of quality electric bicycle kits on the market. But which is the best for you? Here are a few things to consider when choosing your new e-bike kit.
1. How Will You Use Your E-Bike?
The most important factor to consider when purchasing an e-bike conversion kit is how you plan to use it. More powerful units are better suited for high-speed and trail riding, while lighter motors are a great option for urban commutes or cruising.
2. What Kind of Battery Pack Do You Need?
Batteries are something you don't want to skimp on. You may be able to cut a few corners with a motor and get away with it, but you'll regret buying a budget battery. Look for well-known battery brands like Panasonic, LG and Samsung. Certain batteries perform better in terms of the distance you can travel (specific energy), how they handle high-load situations like accelerating or traveling uphill (specific power) and safety. Picking the right battery is a balancing act of the activities you plan on doing with your e-bike. Nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) and lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry offer the best overall value for the average e-biker, providing a happy medium of capacity, power, safety and price.
Voltage and amps are important considerations when choosing a battery. Choosing the wrong volt/amps rating may damage your e-bike or even start a fire. E-bike motors require specific battery volts, and you should choose a battery that falls in the range of your motor's voltage requirements. Choosing a battery within the higher voltage limits of your motor's range usually translates to greater speeds.
Amps are the measure of current flow at a specific voltage. In simplistic terms, amps can be thought of as a measurement of your e-bike's torque. The higher the amps, the higher the current, and the more torque you'll have.
Watts (W) is a combination of volts and amps. Battery capacity is measured in watt-hours (Wh) and can tell you the theoretical capacity of your battery. Some manufacturers will claim 50-mile travel distances, but don't be fooled: Real-world biking scenarios are very, very different from sterile lab conditions, so most 6- to 8-pound lithium-ion batteries will actually have about a 20-mile range.
3. How Easy Is it to Install?
If you're buying an e-bike conversion kit because a dedicated e-bike isn't in the budget, you may also opt to install the kit yourself, so ease of installation is a must. All of the conversion kits listed above have glowing reviews for no-sweat installation, but there are a few reported hiccups: Some filing may need to be done here or there, a spacer or washer may need to be added and the manual's language may be difficult to follow.
Watch as many tutorial videos as you can (hint: search "your bike model" + "your e-bike conversion kit"). And as always, be patient and consult a bike repair professional if necessary.
4. How Much Speed Do You Need?
In more than 30 states, e-bikes are organized into three classes as defined by speed, wattage and operation. Typically, Class I and II bikes are allowed wherever regular pedal bikes roam. Here's a breakdown of each class:
- Class I: E-bikes that are pedal-assist only, having no throttle and attaining a max speed of 20 mph
- Class II: Throttle-equipped e-bikes with a max speed of 20 mph
- Class III: Pedal-assist only with a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph
No class can exceed a max motor power of 750W (one horsepower). In some states, e-bikes over 750W are considered motor vehicles, making them subject to certain laws and regulations. Check your state's motor vehicle department to see if these rules apply to you.
5. What Intuitive Features Do You Want?
Each manufacturer designs its e-bikes differently. Some control features are simple, such as pedal-activated assist modes. Others require you to toggle the settings from a control monitor. Consider other control designs like throttle and braking configurations. The last thing you want are controls that make you think twice while on the road, creating an unsafe and cumbersome riding experience.
6. What Design Are You Looking For?
There's no sugar-coating it: Your classy old Schwinn road bike is going to look different with a motor and battery strapped to it. If you prefer to not wear your tech on your sleeve, there are plenty of options for as sleek and low-tech a look as possible, such as hidden batteries, low-profile or no-profile speed displays and more. If performance is your salient consideration, a slew of techy add-ons are at your disposal.
7. What's Your Budget?
Finally, cost. Balance the considerations above and choose an e-bike conversion kit that fits your budget. If you need to skimp a bit on price, don't do it with the battery.
FAQ: Electric Bike Kits
How much does an e-bike conversion kit cost?
The best e-bike conversion kits cost between $320-$700.
What is the best electric bike conversion kit?
We recommend the Ebikeling Waterproof Ebike Conversion Kit to turn your regular bike into an electric bicycle.
Are e-bike conversion kits worth it?
If you have a pedal bike you love, conversion kits are an excellent investment, offering solid performance at a price point significantly lower than a brand new dedicated e-bike. E-bikes allow you to go farther, faster and longer than pedaling alone but still provide great exercise.
E-bikes are also an inclusive means of getting around, as they open the world of cycling to those who may otherwise be unable to ride a bike due to age or physical abilities. They're a safe, affordable and efficient way to supercharge any old bike into a trail-crushing, commute-slaying, road-riding machine.
How fast does a 1000-watt electric bike go?
A 1,000-watt e-bike can reach a top speed of 35 mph.
Christian Yonkers is a writer, photographer, filmmaker, and outdoor junkie obsessed with the intersectionality between people and planet. He partners with brands and organizations with social and environmental impact at their core, assisting them in telling stories that change the world.
Matchbox, a formerly British company, is now owned by Mattel, an American company that also produces Hot Wheels. The company is striving to use 100% recycled material by 2030.
Mattel joins major toy companies Hasbro, which produces toys like Nerf guns, Monopoly, and Beyblade toys, and LEGO in the movement to make toys more environmentally friendly by working on their green credentials.
The first matchbox car in this eco-series to be released will be modeled after the zero-emission Tesla Roadster. The toy version of the Roadster will be made of 99% recycled materials, including zinc and plastic, and is scheduled to go on sale in 2022.
Matchbox's new series aims to educate children on the environmental impact of cars and motoring, according to the BBC.
"We love this casting of the Matchbox Tesla roadster because it represents two things. It's not just about the materials and usage of the materials that are more sustainable, but it's also about the themes that encourage environmental consciousness and really help kids experience greener behaviors in their play," Roberto Stainchi, senior vice president of Hot Wheels and global head of vehicles at Mattel, Inc. said in an interview with Autoweek.
Not only will the toy car be made of recycled materials, but the packaging it comes in will not be made of plastic. Instead, the company will use biodegradable paper and wood fiber.
"Matchbox has always been about realism. It's a reflection of the world and the vehicles kids see driving on the road every day. As we were thinking about our brands, and thinking about where to begin, we thought, 'Well if this world is evolving, so should Matchbox,'" Stanichi said.
Matchbox will also create miniature versions of hybrid and electric cars made by BMW, Nissan, and Toyota. The brand is also incorporating realistic accessories to its new line of electric cars, including electric vehicle chargers.
Audrey Nakagawa is the content creator intern at EcoWatch. She is a senior at James Madison University studying Media, Art, and Design, with a concentration in journalism. She's a reporter for The Breeze in the culture section and writes features on Harrisonburg artists, album reviews, and topics related to mental health and the environment. She was also a contributor for Virginia Reports where she reported on the impact that COVID-19 had on college students.
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California Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Wednesday that would ban the sale of new cars in California that run only on gasoline by the year 2035. The bid to reduce emissions and combat the climate crisis would make California the first state to ban the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines, according to POLITICO.
"This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change," said Newsom in a statement that accompanied the signing of the executive order. "For too many decades, we have allowed cars to pollute the air that our children and families breathe. Californians shouldn't have to worry if our cars are giving our kids asthma. Our cars shouldn't make wildfires worse – and create more days filled with smoky air. Cars shouldn't melt glaciers or raise sea levels threatening our cherished beaches and coastlines."
The threats posed by the climate crisis are playing out in dramatic fashion in California. This summer, the state has seen record-setting wildfires, heat waves and drought. Those mounting climate crisis-related challenges have spurred the move away from the state's leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, as The Washington Post reported.
"We can't continue down this path," Newsom said at a briefing, as The Guardian reported. "If you care about your kids and your grandkids, if you care about disadvantaged communities, if you care about seniors, if you care about rural communities, if you care about inner city communities that have been underserved by our fossil fuel economy, then you care about the core construct that we are advancing here in this executive order."
Newsom added that the order will create "green collar jobs" that Californians are well-positioned to capitalize on since 34 electric car manufacturers are already in the state.
"Our second largest export in the state of California are electric vehicles," he said, according to The Guardian. "Those 34 manufacturers, those public trading manufacturers, represent close to half a trillion dollars of market capitalization, some $500bn … this is an economic opportunity."
For the order to be successful, the technology, scalability, and affordability of electric cars would have to improve dramatically in the next decade. Also, the state will need to make sure charging stations are readily available. California currently has the largest market for electric and hybrid vehicles, with roughly 257,000 new registrations for electric vehicles in 2018, according to The Washington Post. Yet, that number was not even 10 percent of the state's new car market.
While the order is sure to meet legal challenges, it may set the trend that carmakers need to increase their investment in fossil-fuel-free vehicles.
"The automotive industry was already on the road toward electrification as a long term goal, but many automakers have been guilty of setting short term targets for their electrification strategy that never came to fruition," said Jessica Caldwell, director of insights at Edmunds, an online resource for car data, in an emailed comment to CNN. "This rule, if implemented, establishes a specific timeline that they'll collectively need to adhere to. California is a major market that automakers desperately need to maintain sales within to ensure their own viability."
The announcement also earned the praise of environmental groups.
"The Governor's Executive Order is a meaningful step in addressing the climate crisis and protecting the health of Californians," said Coalition for Clean Air in an email to NPR. "Electrifying transportation will also create jobs and help California move forward in its economic recovery."
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By Douglas Broom
There were 10 million electric cars on the world's roads at the end of 2020 as registrations soared by 41% in just one year. But when it comes to hauling heavy loads, most of the world's trucks still run on diesel.
But that's starting to change with the introduction in Germany of the world's first 16 tonne (approximately 17.6 U.S ton) all-electric truck.
Electrifying truck fleets will have a positive impact on urban air quality. According to the United Nations, nine out of 10 of us breathe polluted air. Air quality is at its worst in city centers. The 96 entries in the global league table of the worst air quality locations are all cities. Recent research shows 3.4 early deaths are caused by outdoor air pollution every year.
Cleaner Air and Safer Streets
As well as being the first purpose-designed all-electric commercial vehicle designed for city center deliveries with a range of 200 km (approximately 124 miles) between charges, the Volta Zero is also claimed to be one of the safest trucks in the world.
The driver sits in the center of the cab at low-level to mirror the eyeline of pedestrians and car drivers. Conventional truck blindpots are eliminated by what the makers call a "glasshouse-style cab" with 220⁰ visibility, supplemented by cameras in place of conventional mirrors.
Sweden-based Volta has also shown the Zero to potential customers in London where a fifth of all pedestrian fatalities and over 70% of cyclist deaths are caused by trucks even though they only account for 4% of vehicle mileage in the city.
The timing of their sales campaign is particularly opportune. Earlier this year, 14 Dutch cities announced they would ban fossil fuel vans and trucks from their urban areas from 2025. Across Europe, communities will allow only electric vehicles in towns and city centers in the future.
Volta Trucks is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Innovators Community, an invitation-only group of the world's most promising start-ups and scale-ups that are at the forefront of technological and business model innovation.
The Zero is not the only truck vying for the lucrative urban market. Last autumn Amazon ordered 10,000 electric vans from U.S.-based maker Rivian and 1,800 Mercedes electric vans for use in Europe, the German manufacturer's biggest single electric vehicle order.
Rivian is also building an all-electric sports utility vehicle (SUV) with deliveries due to start in July 2021. It's a market that's attracting a lot of attention in the U.S. with an all-electric Hummer SUV due to be delivered to customers from early 2023. The pickup version is due this autumn.
The Biggest Yet?
But when it comes to the largest vehicles in the world, such as the huge dump trucks used in mining and quarrying, electrification is also coming soon thanks to a collaboration between a company best known for Formula One racing cars and a French energy firm.
Together, Williams Advanced Engineering and ENGIE have developed what's claimed to be the world's largest electric vehicle. Weighing in at 263 tonnes, the modified Komatsu dump truck uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to generate the power for its electric motors.
The electricity is stored in high powered lithium-ion batteries. Testing of the new truck is due to start at Anglo American's Mogalakwena platinum mine in South Africa later this year. The Williams team are already working on a plug-in battery mining truck for use in Australia.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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By Walé Azeez
While global car sales took a pandemic-related hit last year, electric vehicles (EVs) bucked the trend.
The number of EVs registered across the globe expanded massively in 2020, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) – and this is set to continue over the next decade.
Here are five facts about the market from the agency's first Global Electric Vehicle Outlook report.
1. There Were 11 Million Registered Electric Vehicles on the Road at the End of Last Year
10 million of these were cars. The total number of electric cars, buses, vans and trucks is projected to rise to 145 million, or 7% of road transportation, by the end of the decade under governments' existing energy and climate policies.
With even bolder climate programs and emission reduction targets, there could be up to 230 million electric vehicles on our streets – 12% of all road transport – by 2030. Motorcycles and mopeds were not included in the figures.
2. Electric Car Buying Remained High in the Face of the Pandemic
Electric car registrations were up 41% in 2020, despite a 16% drop in overall car sales across the world.
Last year was indeed a ground-breaking one for the sector, as Europe overtook China as the centre of the global electric car market for the first time. From global electric car sales of 3 million, registrations in Europe more than doubled to 1.4 million, while in China they increased to 1.2 million.
Global electric car registrations and market share 2015-2020: Europe surpassed China for the first time in 2020. IEA
3. Consumer and Government Spending on Electric Cars Rose in 2020
A rise in the number of different EV car models available in the market to 370 and the falling cost of batteries saw consumers spend 50% more on electric cars in 2020, to the tune of $120 billion.
Governments also continued to encourage the move to EVs, spending $14 billion on direct purchase incentives and tax deductions – a 25% rise year-on-year. Before the pandemic, many countries strengthened key policies such as CO2 emission standards and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) directives. By the end of 2020, more than 20 countries had either announced bans on sales of internal combustion engine cars or decreed that all new sales be zero-emission.
Some European countries increased buying incentives and incorporated the promotion of EVs into their post-pandemic economic recovery plans. China postponed the end of its New Energy Vehicle (NEV) subsidy scheme to 2022, to safeguard EV sales from the economic downturn.
Consumer and government spending on electric cars rose in 2020. IEA
4. Electric Bus and Truck Registrations Also Increased Within the World's Largest Markets
Across China, Europe and North America these rises were mainly due to municipal governments imposing greater emission reductions on commercial vehicles operating within their towns and cities. China, for example, commands a 27% share of all electric bus sales, where new registrations were up 9% in 2020.
Electric heavy-duty trucks, while more established in China, have only recently begun to come on stream further afield, currently consisting of around 1% of all truck sales in both Europe and the US.
5. Widespread EV Adoption Could Significantly Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The IEA says mass adoption has the potential to cut emissions by more than one-third by 2030 under the existing 'stated' green policies
Up to two-thirds of emissions could be slashed in that time if countries endorse more ambitious 'sustainable development' targets.
Long Road to Sustainability
While progress is being made, electric cars currently make up 1% of the global fleet. And significant barriers to the wholesale adoption of EVs remain, the report says.
Insufficient charging infrastructure continues to prevent wider use, as does the low supply of appropriate electric vehicles in many sectors, such as heavy industry. Despite falling battery costs, rising vehicle production to meet demand, and the promise of savings over the lifetime of an EV from lower fuel and maintenance costs, upfront prices remain prohibitive for some.
On the supply side, there are also challenges related to the poor sustainability levels associated with EV batteries: the sourcing of raw materials is frequently concentrated in a few developing countries that are often politically volatile and economically fragile.
A related concern is around recyclability. EV batteries consist of multiple Lithium-ion cells that are largely difficult to dismantle and which contain hazardous materials.
But there are some recent examples of the industry responding to this challenge.
Nissan is now reusing batteries from its Leaf cars to power automated guided vehicles used around assembly plants. And while Volkswagen has also redeployed old batteries, it has also opened a recycling plant in Salzgitter, Germany.
Global Battery Alliance
But until recycling moves from the fringe to the mainstream of EV battery production, demand for critical raw materials will only grow.
The Global Battery Alliance (GBA), initiated with support of the World Economic Forum, is a public-private collaboration between 70 organizations across manufacturing, public service and civil society that was established to address this issue by working to bring sustainability to the battery value chain.
The GBA advocates for the production of EV batteries and their by-products to be integrated into the circular economy and promoting transparency and reduction of greenhouse emissions from battery manufacturing.
Last year, the alliance outlined 10 guiding principles for a sustainable battery value chain, to significantly reduce the 40% of all annual global carbon emissions that the transport and power industry is currently responsible for.
It is also committed to policies in which EV battery production takes into account local economies, their environments and human rights, especially in relation to child labor exploitation.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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By Gero Rueter
"I really like my job, I'm excited and I'm learning a lot," says Fabian Rojas.
The 26-year-old Argentinian has been working since last October for a small company near the western German city of Cologne that installs solar panels on roofs.
The company's CEO René Hegel, who's been selling photovoltaic systems since 2008, hired the Argentine engineer, who was visiting Germany at the time. In this way, the company is able to meet at least part of rapidly increasing demand in the region.
"We have many inquiries, I put together at least six offers a week and we already have orders for the next four to five months," Rojas told DW. "Customers want to generate their own electricity, charge their electric cars and reduce consumption from the grid. This also contributes to climate protection."
Rojas talks to customers, customizes photovoltaic systems and sometimes helps install them on rooftops.
"Fabian is a fast learner," Hegel says. "In the next few months he will gain more practical experience, and then things will get even better."
German Solar Industry: Help Wanted
Hegel is planning on expanding his four-person team to meet the increasing demand for solar energy, which is again picking up following a boom and bust of solar in the early 2000s.
In Germany, solar power systems with a total capacity of 5 gigawatts (GW) were installed in 2020, and that capacity is expected to grow. Studies indicate that expansion would have to be increased six-fold — to 30 GW per year — in order to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) this century.
To achieve this, more manpower is needed in the solar industry, says Günther Haug, manager at BayWa r.e. The Munich-based company is building large solar and wind farms worldwide, and continues to grow. In 2017, BayWa r.e. had 1,100 employees; today, there are 2,700.
"We are looking for engineers, financial experts, skilled personnel for project development and for people with technical training for customer service," said Haug.
To find and retain personnel, Haug says the company is "willing to make a considerable financial investment and also train applicants ourselves, because there aren't enough skilled workers."
"There are presently about 50,000 jobs in photovoltaics in Germany," says Volker Quaschning, a professor of renewable energy at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin (HTW). He says that many people are now looking for new jobs because of the coronavirus crisis.
"We have to be smart about how we approach this, we need to start training programs to have enough skilled workers. Otherwise, the energy transition will fail due to a lack of personnel," Quaschning told DW.
Solar Jobs to Exceed 60 Million Worldwide
As of 2019, around 11.5 million people worldwide were working in the renewable energy sector, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). More than a third of them worked in photovoltaics.
IRENA holds the view that investments to revive the economy and job market as countries emerge from the COVID-19 crisis should prioritize the energy transition.
"We estimate that every dollar spent in this field creates three times more jobs than in the fossil energy sector," says IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera. "More and more policymakers are recognizing the job potential."
Solar power is now the cheapest means of generating electricity, which is why researchers expect it to make a global breakthrough as the primary source of energy in the future. Currently, there are photovoltaic systems with a total capacity of about 850 GW installed worldwide. They produce roughly as much electricity as 190 nuclear power plants.
Studies estimate that at least 60,000 GW of solar power will be needed to achieve a global, climate-neutral energy supply. To do this, the industry would need to hire more than 60 million workers in the next decade for module production and assembly, as well as system maintenance.
Curiosity Can Lead to a New Job in the Energy Sector
Fabian Rojas, the Cologne-based engineer, is fascinated by solar and wind power, and new energy-saving technologies. He regularly exchanges ideas about these topics via video call with a friend from Argentina who is setting up solar power systems in the United States.
"Solar power is needed worldwide, and that's why there's a global demand for workers in this field," Rojas said, adding that this was true for Europe as well as for Asia and South America.
To anyone who wants to work in the industry, Rojas recommends being proactive.
"Educate yourself, do an internship. Luckily, there's a lot of information on the internet, too."
In the solar sector, he sees many opportunities to work in other places in the world and to share his knowledge: "I'm excited to see who will come knocking on our door next."
This article was adapted from German.
Reposted with permission from DW.
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The U.S. electric car manufacturer Tesla suspended its plans to accept Bitcoin as a payment method, CEO Elon Musk announced in a Twitter statement late Wednesday.
Musk, who has become notorious for moving the price of cryptocurrencies via tweets, cited the massive amount of energy required to keep Bitcoin running and its environmental impacts as the reasoning behind Tesla's turnaround.
"We are concerned about rapid increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel," the statement said.
While cryptocurrency is a "good idea on many levels," it comes at a "great cost to the environment," Musk said.
The price of Bitcoin dropped nearly 13% late Wednesday after Tesla's announcement, according to Coin Metrics. The cryptocurrency website coindesk showed Bitcoin's dollar value dipped to a 24-hour low of just above $46,000, before rebounding slightly to hover around $50,000.
What Relationship Does Tesla Have to Bitcoin?
Tesla sparked a Bitcoin boom in February, after announcing it would invest some $1.5 billion in the cryptocurrency with the intention to allow customers to buy their e-cars with it.
The fair market value of Tesla's Bitcoin by the end of March was $2.48 billion, securities filings showed. Tesla said it was not planning to sell its Bitcoin holdings.
"Tesla will not be selling any Bitcoin and we intend to use it for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy," the statement said.
The company was also looking into other cryptocurrency options without Bitcoin's environmental impacts, it said.
What Is Bitcoin's Impact on the Environment?
Bitcoin is mined by computers solving complex puzzles. As more Bitcoin is mined, the more complex the puzzles become, thus requiring more computational energy.
A 2019 study from researchers at the Technical University of Munich and MIT found that the CO2 emissions for the entire Bitcoin network amounted to up to 22.9 million tons in 2018.
At such a rate, the carbon emissions connected to Bitcoin resemble those of a large city in a rich country or an entire developing country such as Sri Lanka.
Musk has shown enthusiasm to make electric cars, such as those produced by Tesla, mainstream, enticing drivers away from vehicles with combustion engines that contribute to climate change.
Reposted with permission from DW.
As electric vehicles become more mainstream, the demand for lithium ion car batteries is growing. But to increase production, the industry needs more lithium, cobalt, and nickel.
One possible source is batteries that are no longer in use.
"It's a bit of a waste to just have batteries sitting in a landfill. And there's opportunity there to reuse those materials, make them as good as new," says Kunal Phalpher of Li-Cycle.
Li-Cycle uses a two-step process to recover more than 80% of the materials in old lithium ion batteries.
"We take the batteries and shred them," Phalpher says. "And then phase two of the process is then to take that mixed material and separate each of the elements through chemical processing."
The approach generates less carbon pollution than mining those minerals from the ground. And it solves another problem the booming industry is grappling with: how to safely and sustainably dispose of spent batteries.
Li-Cycle has a demonstration plant in Canada, and Phalpher says it's building a new facility in Rochester, New York. Last December, the company shipped its first commercial load of recycled battery material to a customer – a critical milestone on the road to addressing this global challenge.
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.
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By Brett Wilkins
As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
The report, Changing Our Ways: Behavior Change and the Climate Crisis, found that nearly half the growth in absolute global emissions was caused by the world's richest 10%, with the most affluent 5% alone contributing 37%.
"In the year when the UK hosts COP26, and while the government continues to reward some of Britain's biggest polluters through tax credits, the commission report shows why this is precisely the wrong way to meet the UK's climate targets," the report's introduction states.
The authors of the report urge United Kingdom policymakers to focus on this so-called "polluter elite" in an effort to persuade wealthy people to adopt more sustainable behavior, while providing "affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households."
The report found that the "polluter elite" must make "dramatic" lifestyle changes in order to meet the UK's goal — based on the Paris climate agreement's preferential objective — of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels.
In addition to highlighting previous recommendations — including reducing meat consumption, reducing food waste, and switching to electric vehicles and solar power — the report recommends that policymakers take the following steps:
- Implement frequent flyer levies;
- Enact bans on selling and promoting SUVs and other high polluting vehicles;
- Reverse the UK's recent move to cut green grants for homes and electric cars; and
- Build just transitions by supporting electric public transport and community energy schemes.
"We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions," Peter Newell, a Sussex University professor and lead author of the report, told the BBC.
"These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most, and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they're well insulated or not," said Newell. "They're also the sort of people who could really afford good insulation and solar panels if they wanted to."
Newell said that wealthy people "simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV, that's still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place."
"Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air," Newell added. "But these schemes are highly contentious and they're not proven over time."
The report concludes that "we are all on a journey and the final destination is as yet unclear. There are many contradictory road maps about where we might want to get to and how, based on different theories of value and premised on diverse values."
"Promisingly, we have brought about positive change before, and there are at least some positive signs that there is an appetite to do what is necessary to live differently but well on the planet we call home," it states.
The new report follows a September 2020 Oxfam International study that revealed the wealthiest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50% of humanity combined.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
Some of the opposition will come from auto companies that want to delay the transition to electric vehicles, but others will be from fossil fuel interests or climate deniers. But it really doesn't matter why they're trying to mislead the public about electric vehicles.The important thing is that you know that this is familiar and worn-out disinformation, designed to sow doubt and confusion. Here are some of the truths about EVs, so that you can spot misleading attacks.
1. EVs aren't the perfect solution for the future of transportation – they're just much, much better than gasoline vehicles.
EVs offer us a way to have personal mobility with much fewer global warming emissions than gasoline vehicles. It's clear that the emissions from driving on electricity are lower than those from using a gasoline vehicle, even when accounting for electricity generation. Our most recent analysis shows that, across the country, driving electric is cleaner than even the most efficient gasoline car. As our electric grid continues to get cleaner (with lower coal use and more renewable energy sources), the climate benefit from electric vehicles is increasing. And, of course, because they avoid burning gasoline, electric vehicles can reduce tailpipe emissions that lead to harmful air pollution across the country and put us on the path to reducing the pollution and environmental degradation that is associated with extracting and refining petroleum.
Of course, there are emissions from building every vehicle. Because of battery manufacturing, climate emissions from building electric vehicles are slightly higher those from manufacturing a gasoline vehicle. However, those increased emissions are quickly (within 6 to 16 months depending on location) made up from the savings from using electricity in place of gasoline. As we increase the production of EVs, it will be important to work to minimize manufacturing emissions by reducing energy use in the extraction and preparation of battery materials and by the recycling and reuse of used batteries.
It will also be important to hold all companies to environmental and human rights standards for their manufacturing and supply chains. Auto companies and battery suppliers need to source products and raw materials in a sustainable and ethical way. Greater transparency from manufacturers would be helpful in this area. Some have started to disclose details on their supply chain and make commitments to improve their practices. We also need to remember this goes beyond electric cars; we should be asking the same sorts of questions about our consumer-electronics companies and yes even the companies that produce and extract petroleum products and other fossil fuels.
2. EV sales are a small fraction of U.S. autos now, but that's going to change.
A common line used to argue against EVs is that they have historically made up a small fraction of the sales in the U.S. and therefore they can't possibly make a difference in our emissions. Others try to use the fact that fewer EVs were sold than gasoline cars to mean that EV's just aren't very popular.
These backwards-looking approaches could be used to dismiss any new technology, not just EVs. For example, in 2000 only 2.5% of households had broadband internet access. Of course that didn't mean that home internet wasn't going to be a transformative technology. We can't look in the rear view mirror to see the road ahead for EVs.
It's obvious if we look back 10 years ago that the number and the capability of EVs was not at the level needed to replace gasoline vehicles. The good news is that in 2021, the EV landscape is vastly changed from even 5 years ago. New car buyers now have multiple options for long range EVs and can choose compelling options from more automakers than ever before. Currently, plug in cars make up about 2 percent of all sales in the U.S., but the number is higher in areas that have sought to accelerate the market via regulation and incentives. For example, in California, EV sales were over 8% of all new car sales in the state, showing the potential for higher sales elsewhere in the country with the use regulations, incentives, and customer awareness efforts.
3. EVs are much more than the Tesla Model S.
Tesla gets the lion's share of attention in the EV market, and for good reason. Tesla has led in plug-in car sales and the introduction of the Tesla Model S in 2012 changed many people's impression of what an electric car is. While some may have thought EVs were "golf carts", unstylish, or boring before, it would be hard to apply those labels to Tesla's Model S. However, Tesla's success (and press coverage) has now meant that the Tesla brand or the Model S is used synonymously with "EV."
Tesla has been a game changer in the EV market, but there are many more plug-in options now than the Tesla Model S. We're seeing many more affordable EVs on the market, though they often get much less press coverage. As more automakers introduce EV models and production volumes of plug-in vehicles increase, we are seeing even long-range battery electric cars being offered for lower than the MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) of the average new car in the U.S. (estimated to be over $40,000 in 2019). The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a base model MSRP under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000. Those who are critical of EVs would like to portray all plug-ins as high-priced luxury vehicles, but that simply isn't the case in 2021. Both here and abroad, automakers are increasing electric vehicle production, pushing down prices and making more options available to buyers.
Despite the proliferation of anti-EV arguments in the press, these arguments are old and long-debunked — dubious even when they were introduced, but downright silly after a decade of advancement in the EV market.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
Now is the time to accelerate the switch to EVs.
With the impacts of climate change becoming more evident every year and the clear science on the health harms of air pollution, it's imperative that we switch from gasoline to electric vehicles as soon as possible. To make this happen, we need to use all of the policy tools available.
Federal and state incentives are vital in the short term to make buying EVs easier for more people. Battery prices (and therefore EV prices) are dropping as the scale of production ramps up, but incentives are vital now to offset the extra initial cost of EVs.
We also need to use existing greenhouse gas emissions and air quality regulations to make sure the aspirations of automakers to go electric become reality. This means setting both strong federal standards for emissions and using California's authority under the Clean Air Act to require zero emission vehicles. Because the Clean Air Act also allows other states to adopt the California standards, there are now 11 states representing 30% of the U.S. population now moving forward with zero emission clean car standards to reduce their residents' exposure to tailpipe pollution and put their states on a path to lower carbon emissions and more states are poised to enact these standards.
Some have argued that we shouldn't rush this transition or wait until electricity and EVs are perfectly clean to start rolling out electric vehicles. There might be value in those propositions if there was not such urgency in the need to reduce emissions and clear costs for delay. Every gasoline vehicle we put on the road today means 10 to 20 years of pollution over its lifetime, and the climate-warming tailpipe pollutants accumulate in the atmosphere accumulate over time. If we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we can't afford to keep putting tailpipes on the road.
David Reichmuth is a senior engineer in the Clean Transportation Program with the Union of Concerned Scientists, focusing on oil savings and vehicle electrification.
Reposted with permission from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
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By Matt Casale
There were many lessons to be learned from Texas' prolonged periods of lost power during its cold snap, which saw temperatures drop into the single digits. But one many people may not recognize is that electric vehicles, or EVs, can be part of a smart resiliency plan — not only in the case of outages triggered by the cold but in other scenarios caused by extreme weather events, from fire-related blackouts in California to hurricane-hit power losses in Puerto Rico.
A car driving in the snow in Dallas, Feb. 2021. Matthew Rader / CC BY-SA 4.0
Experts recognize that electric vehicles are a central climate solution for their role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But EVs are also essentially batteries on wheels. You can store energy in those batteries, and if EVs are equipped with something called vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-building technology, they can also be used to keep the lights on in emergencies. The technology allows the energy being stored in an EV battery to be pushed back into the grid or into buildings to provide power.
There are hurdles: The technology is still developing, the vast majority of EVs currently on the road do not have this capability, and utilities would need regulatory approval before bringing it to scale. But done right it could be a great opportunity.
Electric car batteries can hold approximately 60 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy, enough to provide back-up power to an average U.S. household for two days. Larger electric vehicles like buses and trucks have even bigger batteries and can provide more power. The American company Proterra produces electric buses that can store up to 660 kWh of energy. Electric garbage trucks and even big-rigs, with bigger batteries, are becoming a reality too.
MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann / CC BY 2.0
If equipped with vehicle-to-grid or vehicle-to-building technology, those cars, buses and trucks could prove invaluable during future blackouts. People could rely on their cars to power their houses. Municipalities, transit agencies and school districts could send out their fleets to the areas most in need. We could power homes, shelters and emergency response centers — and could keep people warm, healthy and comfortable until power could be restored.
But to add this great resiliency tool to our arsenal in times of extreme weather, we must significantly increase the number of EVs on the road. In 2019 electric cars accounted for only about 2% of all light-duty vehicle sales in the country. Electric buses and trucks are becoming more common in the United States, but still only represent a tiny fraction of the fleet. As it stands now, the EVs currently on the road, even if equipped with vehicle-to-grid technology, would do little to help a broad swath of the population in need of power.
A line of electric cars at charging stations. Andrew Bone / CC BY 2.0
There are some signs that this is changing. California and Massachusetts have both announced intentions to explore a policy that would require all new cars after 2035 be electric. General Motors is the latest major automaker to announce an intention to move toward producing only electric cars. Several major transit agencies, including in Texas, are starting to switch to all-electric buses.
But we must move faster. If we electrified the nation's transit and school bus fleets by 2030, for example, we could have more than 500,000 large mobile batteries available across the country.
To support widespread adoption of electric vehicles, we need to invest in the charging infrastructure necessary to accommodate explosive growth. We also need to make sure that as EV adoption increases, the vehicles and infrastructure are set up to use the power-transfer technology. Nissan already does this with its Leaf-to-home system. Proterra offers transit buses equipped with the technology. Dominion Energy in Virginia is working with school bus manufacturers to develop and operationalize a large-scale school bus vehicle-to-grid program.
To standardize the technology and make it accessible to everyone, utilities should seek regulatory approval to implement programs and invest in vehicle-to-grid capable infrastructure, and automakers should make it easy for consumers to install chargers that can send power both ways.
As that happens, governments at all levels should work to incorporate electric vehicles into their emergency response plans. Shelters, hospitals, emergency response centers and other buildings critical to crisis management should be equipped with the infrastructure necessary to pull power from EVs. Heavy-duty fleets like buses and trucks present particularly promising opportunities to provide power to people in need, but all the electric buses in the world won't do any good if we're not prepared to have them charged and ready to deploy to the areas that need them the most.
A few Tesla owners in Texas were able to draw power from their cars to stay warm and keep the lights on this month, which is great. But this valuable resource shouldn't be limited to a few select people on a one-off basis. With more EVs on the road and careful planning and preparation, we could have millions of mobile batteries available to help keep the power on for everyone in emergencies.
Matt Casale is the transportation campaign director for U.S. PIRG, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the public interest and speaks out for a healthier, safer world in which we're freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good. Matt works on the local, state and federal levels to bring about policy changes that will reduce the need to drive, electrify buses and electrify cars — so the easiest, cheapest and most pleasant ways to travel are also the cleanest and healthiest. Matt lives in Boston with his wife and two daughters.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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