What to define the electric vehicle’s effectiveness

The government of Hong Kong has published the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035” in June 2021. We had no surprise that the content addresses air quality from the subject – the undeniable health and well-being issue. One of the suggesting measures is the electric vehicle (EV). But here, we should be alarmed that dealing with carbon emission for air quality is somewhat different from dealing with the climate change risk. The EV effectiveness is all based on the aim we target to assess.

Fossil fuel is the notorious carbon emission root. We immediately feel the carbon emission from the land transportation by its exhaust fumes. Vehicular emission poses health risks to bystanders. Another seemingly remote source of air pollution is marine and air transports. Faraway as it may seem, scholar unveils that we had seventy per cent of ship emissions within four hundred kilometres of land (Eyring et al. 2010). Marine transport is no less during the COVID-19 period. It is the cheaper means of transport if compared with air freight. That is why the shipping demand increases because of globalisation, which is becoming the origin of pollution.

The link above: A webinar by Heliox, a world leader in charging infrastructure and power conversion for commercial electric mobility at Matters Academy

The electric vehicle is an alternative technology that produces less waste and is less harmful to well-being, recognised by todays’ news. Figures from one of the intelligent energy management solution providers, Heliox, has shown that EVs may potentially reach the targets of reducing over ninety-seven per cent of NOX, ninety per cent of carbon emission and sixty-six per cent of particulate emissions. EV development issues are still at the early stage as a whole, revealed in the “Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong 2035”. With such an alluring good number of potentially reduced, why is the adoption of the EV technologies slow? The answer may be found at the Pillars of Design Philosophy (Heliox).

The photo above: Pillars of Design Philosophy (information provided by Heliox)

The Pillars of Design Philosophy segments different stages of building an EV compatible program. Each step has to meet certain specifications to implement the EV infrastructure – whether the grid can support the EV facilities, the depot characteristics, what charging strategy is suitable, the connectivity, equipment and maintenance such as charger care and connectivity services. All of these explains well the likely high cost incurred for EV adoption and the difficulty.

All of the above are proposed based on the clean air subject. Does it necessarily imply EV dealing with the more thorny issue – climate change? Remind that EV charging gets to feed on electricity generation and charging facilities. Carbon Brief, an online platform that won investigative journalism, had the following findings (source – https://www.carbonbrief.org/factcheck-how-electric-vehicles-help-to-tackle-climate-change):

  • “EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.”
  • “In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller, and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.”
  • “However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs, and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.”
  • “Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere.”

Be aware that EV is not the panacea for our burning climate issues. Without a detailed assessment, it is hard for us to realise the real impact of EVs on climate change. So far, the information we have found implicates the best possible cure for climate change is non-fossil fuel energy generation. While we are queuing to advance to the next genuine sustainability era, we apply modelling to analyse energy consumption to tackle the problem right in front of us as an environmental consultancy.

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
(Website: https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer,
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)

How an environmental lawsuit pursued you to be sustainable

Businesses may encounter litigation if they breach the environmental regulations. In some places, governments and businesses may also face a lawsuit if they do not act for climate change.

The UN Environment Programme estimated that 884 climate change cases had been brought in 24 countries in 2017. In 2020, the number was almost double to at least 1,550 cases filed in 38 countries. The countries encountering the climate change lawsuits are not what we assumed to be in developing countries, including Australia (97), followed by the United Kingdom and the European Union (58 and 55 respectively). Though no court has decreed a defendant to compensate losses for climate harms, the parties sued for the environmental outcomes of missing to accommodate their facilities or operations may be at risk of significant liability. The number of events is on the increase. The key trends are: (1) climate rights; (2) domestic enforcement; (3) keeping fossil fuels in the ground; (4) corporate liability and responsibility; (5) failure to adapt and the impacts of adaptation; and/or (6) climate disclosures and greenwashing.

Several examples are extracted from the reports below to reveal the potential liabilities:

To download the report: https://www.unep.org/resources/report/global-climate-litigation-report-2020-status-review
  • “The U.S. utility Pacific Gas & Electric, discussed below in Section 2.B.6, provides a stark example: In 2019, facing billions of dollars in liability for its role in causing wildfires, the company filed for bankruptcy. Those claims were ultimately resolved by settlements valued in excess of $25 billion.”
  • “In May 2019, a group of eight Torres Strait Islanders submitted a petition against the Australian government to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, alleging that Australia is violating their human rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by failing to establish sufficient greenhouse gas mitigation targets and plans, and by failing to fund adequate coastal defense and resilience measures on the islands, which are at risk of inundation due to sea level rise. “
  • “In Gloucester Resources Limited v. Minister for Planning, a company brought an action against the planning minister in New South Wales to appeal the denial of the company’s application to construct an open-cut coal mine. The Department of Planning had denied the application in light of, among other reasons, the indirect greenhouse gas emissions of the mine, and the fact that under Section 4.15(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act the government was required to consider the public interest as part of its review of a development application. The court upheld the department’s decision, concluding that because “the negative impacts of the Project, including [among others] climate change impacts, outweigh the economic and other public benefits of the Project,” the project was contrary to the public interest.”
  • “In Harris County v. Arkema, Inc., a local government in Texas sued a chemical manufacturer after flooding caused its facility to lose power and become unable to properly refrigerate certain chemicals stored at the facility that, in turn, led to an explosion, fires, and a massive release of toxic emissions. The county alleged that portions of the facility were built in a documented floodplain and asked for a court order directing the defendant to hire an independent disaster preparedness auditor and to comply with the auditors’ recommendations.”
  • “In Lynn v. Peabody Energy Corporation, a class of participants in Peabody Energy Corporation’s employee stock option plans brought a lawsuit alleging that the plan administrator violated its duty of prudence by continuing to invest in the company’s stock well after public information made it clear that doing so was unreasonable.112 The court dismissed the case, finding that plaintiffs failed to meet the high burden of describing an alternative investment that “a prudent fiduciary in the same circumstances would not have viewed as more likely to harm the fund than to help it.” “

While the courts have to progress in the new litigation cases, litigation cases demonstrate companies’ Science-Based Targets initiative and science of climate attribution, creating a climate-secure world that goes hand-in-hand with successful business operations. What you need for support is reviewing your current ESG or sustainability reports, advising where and how SBTs fit, and developing roadmaps to identify SBTs and monitor progress. Consider setting goals, planning, and communication. From pursuing sustainability, we all look to boost profitability, improve investor confidence, drive innovation, reduce regulatory uncertainty, and strengthen brand reputation.

By: ANewR Consulting Limited, a digital environmental consultant headquartered in Hong Kong since 2008. Our expertise has grown into the context of air and water qualities, noise, green building, waste management, and remediation. With extensive know-how in environmental planning and assessment, feasibility study and policy review, ecological design, monitoring, and audit (EM&A), ANewR has matured to be a leading management consultancy. Standing in the digital transformation reign, ANewR has participated in various environmental digital projects – interactive 3D visualisation, immersive automation virtual environment, Virtual reality, automation system, and monitoring platforms.
(Website:
https://anewr.com, LinkedIn: ANewR Consulting Group, Twitter: ANewR – Everyday Newer, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnpvmxnR9hbNxytSfBdfV8Q/videos)