Progressives’ ultimate goal is to reduce consumption—and living standards—because they believe humans are a menace to the Earth. That means eliminating single-passenger vehicles.
By Allysia Finley, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2023
Replacing all gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles won’t be enough to prevent the world from overheating. So people will have to give up their cars. That’s the alarming conclusion of a new report from the University of California, Davis and “a network of academics and policy experts” called the Climate and Community Project.
The report offers an honest look at the vast personal, environmental and economic sacrifices needed to meet the left’s net-zero climate goals. Progressives’ dirty little secret is that everyone will have to make do with much less—fewer cars, smaller houses and yards, and a significantly lower standard of living.
Problem No. 1: Electric-vehicle batteries require loads of minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel, which must be extracted from the ground like fossil fuels. “If today’s demand for EVs is projected to 2050, the lithium requirements of the US EV market alone would require triple the amount of lithium currently produced for the entire global market,” the report notes.
Unlike fossil fuels, these minerals are mostly found in undeveloped areas that have abundant natural fauna and are often inhabited by indigenous people. “Large-scale mining entails social and environmental harm, in many cases irreversibly damaging landscapes without the consent of affected communities,” the report says. Mining can be done safely, but in poor countries it often isn’t.
Problem No. 2: Mining requires huge amounts of energy and water, and the process of refining minerals requires even more. According to the report, mining accounts for 4% to 7% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Auto makers have made a priority of manufacturing electric pick-up trucks and SUVs because drivers like them, but they require much bigger batteries and more minerals.
More mining to make more EVs will increase CO2 emissions. It will also destroy tropical forests and deserts that currently suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, the report says.
Problem No. 3: “Producing EVs and building and maintaining roads, highways, and parking lots are energyand emissions-intensive processes with high levels of embodied carbon,” the report says. “Electrification of the US transportation system will massively increase the demand for electricity while the transition to a decarbonized electricity grid is still underway.”
Car use and crusade against global warming not compatible
The report concludes that the auto sector’s “current dominant strategy,” which involves replacing gasoline-powered vehicles with EVs without decreasing car ownership and use, “is likely incompatible” with climate activists’ goal to keep the planet from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial times. Instead, the report recommends government policies that promote walking, cycling and mass transit.
Governments, the report says, could reduce “financial subsidies for private vehicles,” such as on-street and free parking. They could also impose charges on pickup trucks and SUVs (including electric ones) and build more bike lanes. Urbanites who suspect the expansion of bike lanes in their cities is intended to force people to stop driving aren’t wrong.
But what about suburbanites who need cars to get around? Reducing “car dependency” will require “densifying low-density suburbs while allowing more people to live in existing high-density urban spaces,” the report says. Translation: Force more people to live in shoe-box apartments in cities by making suburbs denser and less appealing.
All this may sound crazy, but it isn’t a fringe view on the left. A Natural Resources Defense Council report last year on lithium mining also concluded that the government needs “to reduce long-term dependency on single-passenger vehicles.” The Inflation Reduction Act included billions of dollars to promote bicycling and so-called livable neighborhoods.
Cost of Electric vehicles will soar
California’s Democratic Legislature last year even passed a bill creating a $1,000 tax credit (originally proposed at $7,500) for households that don’t own cars. “We can invest in the future by providing financial incentives for Californians to transition from vehicles to more sustainable options,” state Sen. Anthony Portantino said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill, citing its budget cost, but he said he supported “approaches to incentivize a transition from vehicles to more sustainable transportation.” Eliminating cars—not only gasolinepowered ones—is the left’s ultimate goal. This is why progressives have mobilized against nearly every mineral mining project in the U.S.
The looming shortage of minerals will cause prices for EVs—the only cars Americans will be allowed to buy if Mr. Newsom and his green friends have their way—to rise inexorably. Soon Americans may not be able to afford to buy a car even with a government subsidy. Then they will have no choice but to use mass transit or dust off their old 10-speed bike.
Note, too, that there won’t be nearly enough minerals to make the massive batteries necessary to back up an electric grid powered by unreliable wind and solar. So Americans will have to consume less energy— for instance, by setting their thermostats to 80 in summer and 65 in winter—and pay more for it.
Progressives’ ultimate goal is to reduce consumption—and living standards—because they believe humans are a menace to the Earth.