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Climate change and electric vehicles

By Don Aitkin - posted Friday, 10 November 2017

Here's another: The ACT is on track to reach its 90% by 2020 renewable energy target. In 2013–14, 18.6% of the ACT's electricity supply came from renewable sources. As I have argued before, this is smoke-and-mirrors stuff. When we flick a light switch on we get our power from the grid. It is overwhelmingly generated from coal and gas, with a little hydro. Solar and wind are just tiny. What the ACT Government has done is to commission solar and wind generation, much of it outside the ACT, that is a contribution to the grid. My own view is that these claims are close to fraud, pure politics. It continues to surprise me that the educated citizens of the national capital fall for such tripe.

Apart from discovering that motor vehicles are the largest source of emissions in the ACT, I could not find a rationale for electric vehicles that makes any sense. They still have to run on electricity, unless they are hybrids, and even then there will be occasions when the batteries have to be recharged from the mains. That the ACT is exporting its generation of alternative energy to other States doesn't strike me as good housekeeping, whatever else it is.

Altogether this is an exhaustive report, with an abundance of incarnation about land, water, biodiversity, heritage, waste disposal, air quality and so on, and 'progress' in all these areas over a very short period. I can't see that it makes little sense, given the restraints on time (four years) and on space (the ACT is a tiny spot in the nation). I guess someone had to do it, since it has had predecessors. But I doubt that it is of any real use at all, and even The Canberra Timesplaced it as a small item on an interior page. I don't think the ABC even mentioned it…


Why did I? Because it was full of such unexamined rhetoric about 'climate change'. You'd think a Commissioner would would look at this stuff more critically. But then again, these days? Maybe not.

Addendum: It has been pointed out that the report I referred to has little about electric vehicles. The correct report is here. The one I dissected is two years old, and can be accessed at However, that is the report with the egregious account of climate change in the ACT, which is what my essay was principally about. I thank reader Jimbo for his correction.

As it happens, the new one is no better with respect to climate change, and the apparent effects of climate change on the ACT are by-passed, save for a couple of very short-term remarks about usually hot days in January 2017 and the like. Once again, the question of whether or not all this work would have any justification at all, if there were no AGW scare, is never addressed. CAGW is though to be the truth, the IPCC says so, and that is all that is needed. After reading the new report I realised again just how insidious it is when matters of science start to have a quasi-religious importance. Criticism of the basis of the whole report is not acceptable. I don't think anything is likely to change until there are long-term changes in weather conditions that make AGW scares irrelevant, and I don't know when they are likely to occur.

The most sobering, really worrying, aspect of the report is a box about Zurich, where the suggestion is that citizens are allowed just so much electricity, and what they do with it is up to them. The realisation that cheap, reliable electric power is in fact the absolute basis of modern society seems to have passed by the Commissioner and her enthusiastic young colleagues, who seem to me to have an evangelistic fervour about them.

Oh, and the recognition that electric vehicles will be powered by coal and gas, for the greater part, is not even mentioned. Indeed, the report seems to suggest that everyone in the ACT with such a car will be driving around on alternative energy after 2020, which seems just plain nutty to me.

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About the Author

Don Aitkin has been an academic and vice-chancellor. His latest book, Moving On, was published in 2016.

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