Road Building Will Destroy Nearly All the CO2 Savings Made by Electric Cars

By Gary Cutlack on at

A report by a group calling itself Transport for Quality of Life suggests we're about to do away with all the environmental benefits of switching to electric cars by building new roads, to such an extent that around 80 per cent of the CO2 reduction from adopting EVs over the coming decades will be offset by making more room for the old petrols and diesels to enjoy.

The problem is caused by the government's pledge to invest £27 billion over five years in building and widening roads, money that laughs in the face of any claimed "green recovery" the government may be trying to convince us it's embarking upon. The key stat brandished by TQL is that  20 million tonnes of CO2 will be added to the atmosphere by 2032 thanks to the new roads, undoing all the hard work of installing charging stations around the country and subsidising electric cars.

Those figures are massaged slightly by including CO2 generated by the construction phase, which accounts for around one third of the total, but then again we must also remember that EV production is done in factories, using raw materials that are exploded and dug out of the ground by tractors too. The rest of the additional CO2 will hit the air because better and wider roads allow drivers to go faster, driving in a less efficient manner.

TQL report co-author Co-author Lisa Hopkinson said: "Instead of expanding road capacity, we could re-purpose the £27 billion road budget to make it easier for people to reduce their car use. As we come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we know that many people would like to continue to work at or close to home, at least some of the time. That requires a rapid and massive investment in universal superfast broadband, plus remote working hubs so office-workers who can't easily work at home can still work close to home, avoiding the long commute."

It'd definitely get a retweet from popular crusading Chrises Boardman and Packham if that was announced by whoever's the transport secretary this month. [Transport for Quality of Life [PDF] via BBC]