Caroline Russell, transport spokesperson for the Green Party, says electric vehicles are not “magic bullets” and that the vast majority of people shouldn’t be driving in London.
Speaking ahead of the elections, Russell outlined her party’s manifesto pledge to reduce overall mileage and the number of vehicles on the roads. While the manifesto also shares a commitment to creating a network of electric vehicle charging points across the country, Russell believes electric vehicles are not the sole solution to tackling climate issues.
“If we simply switch all the fossil fuel vehicles for electric vehicles, we will not fix climate change and we will not reach net zero,” Russell said. “However, the vehicles that need to keep driving on our streets should absolutely be electric, but we’ve got to reduce the amount of miles driven and that’s why we’ve got a target in our manifesto.
“Electric vehicles still produce PM 2.5 particles pollution from the tyre wear and the road wear as those vehicles drive around our city. Electric vehicles are not a magic bullet. They’re not going to fix this. We’ve got to get off that cycle of people constantly renewing vehicles and getting caught up in finance systems that almost make it inevitable that they will buy a new vehicle instead of thinking “we don’t really need a vehicle of our own.”
Russell added: “In 10 years time, people will look at London and think how on Earth did anyone ever think it was a good idea to have driving on city streets in London? It’s such an inefficient use of space and we could get more people around our city more efficiently.”
Asked whether she still sees cars on the roads of London in the future, Russell said: “I do see some electric vehicles. We’re going to need bin lorries, we’re going to need ambulances, we’re going to need police vehicles and we’re going to need deliveries. These vehicles are needed. There are disabled people who are dependent on using the car to get around, and obviously they would need to use an electric vehicle.
“But the vast majority – all those people taking their kids to school and things like that – none of that should be happening in a car. You’re exposing children to really bad pollution when you put them in a car than when you walk and cycle with them in the street. There is a public health imperative to reduce the number of cars that you use where electric vehicle technology has a part to play.”
Russell continued to say that people are also committed to taking steps to reduce pollution.
“There was a YouGov survey that massively came out in favour of measures to reduce pollution,” she said. “The ULEZ is massively popular. People get that, if everyone is driving, then driving is a really unpleasant experience because the congestion is just too bad.
“If everyone just gets in a car and no one makes the effort to travel in less polluting and less carbon intensive ways, we just end up with a city that is horrible. It’s full of congestion, traffic jams and pollution and that’s not a great place to live. Over this last year, people have told me they’ve been living much more local lives. They’ve got to know their local area much better and they can see that all that travelling they were doing is probably not necessary, and it’s a bit of a waste of time.”