Our city is at an exciting tipping point for EVs. It feels like those last few months before the ban on smoking indoors – soon we’ll be saying we can’t believe people used to be ok with pumping all that pollution out as they drove around the city.
I went to New York recently and saw massive SUVs chugging out fossil fuel emissions in the centre of Manhattan. My cab back from Heathrow was a Volvo EV and the driver could not have been more enthusiastic about his car.
London is leading the field in terms of electrification – and that should give Londoners real hope that they are going to see big improvements in air quality and therefore quality of life.
That’s not to say that the problem is fixed. King’s College data on children’s lung capacity in London primary schools makes for very grim reading with young children constantly exposed to illegal levels of pollutants. London pollution is catastrophic for a whole generation of children who will suffer respiratory disease, but we can at least say something is being done about it.
It’s a choice between Armageddon or awesome
Most people now understand that we need to transition to green, clean economies, and that decarbonising transport is a big part of that. But do they understand what the prize is?
We know we are on the brink of destroying many of the Earth’s ecosystems that literally support our lives â however the other side of that coin is that we are also on the brink of being able to save them.
A friend of mine recently described the existential threat of the climate emergency as “a choice between Armageddon or awesome”. Well a new clean, green transport system for London would definitely be awesome.
Our electrification strategy needs to be more inclusive
Transport security and energy security are so important. We should be in an arms race for the best green technology. The problem is that there’s often a fear about any new technology, but once you drive an EV, you see it’s clearly so much better than the fossil fuel alternative.
Now we need to ensure that our electrification strategy is more inclusive. It was only a few years ago I was with the BBC filming the police as they stopped people for using e-scooters. That’s changing and London is a more inclusive e-city. Details such as those e-scooters are crucial. You can’t expect younger generations to think about private car ownership.
I’m hoping this summit will explore how all these interlinked issues around system change can be made to work together. If we get this right, we can be proud of ourselves.
Lucy Siegle will be presenting the Plug It In Summit on 24th November. See standard.co.uk/plugitin for more details.