Serial recidivist in the Murdoch stable of liars and obfuscators, ‘ruperter’ Geoff Chambers1,2 has now come out with more drivel topped by a ludicrously misleading headline3. He states in Murdoch’s The Australian that, in the eastern states, electric vehicles are responsible for more carbon dioxide emissions than ‘regular’ petrol vehicles. One presumes this ham-fisted statement means on a ‘per vehicle’ basis, as plug-in electric cars make up less than 1% of the cars on the road in Australia.
Chambers quotes a report by engineering consulting company, ABMARC, which states that the Labor Party’s plan to have 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030 would require between $5 billion to $7 billion in charging infrastructure. This sounds like a great deal of cash, but it pales into insignificance alongside the money spent on creating the mobile phone network, which, in 2018, generated $44 billion in revenue alone for its operators. Indeed, telecommunications carriers have spent $5 billion on spectrum licences alone4. One can imagine someone like Chambers, 100 years ago, whining about the huge cost of building petrol stations for all those new-fangled internal combustion engined vehicles, or the huge initial cost of replacing gas street lighting with electricity. Chambers then supposedly quotes from the ABMARC report with “Installing this level of charging infrastructure would require a significant increase in the rate of investment in recharging infrastructure…”3. This does make you wonder about the quality of the report or, at least, the author’s facility with English.
Chambers further quotes the report “CO2 emissions from electric vehicles in Victoria are particularly high, similar to the average diesel CO2 emissions” and petrol vehicles in NSW Victoria ACT and Queensland “provide less CO2 than electric vehicles”. This disparity doesn’t sound reasonable, until you realise, as Chambers states, it is because of “Australia’s continued reliance on coal-fired power stations”3. This is the reason that the headline of Chambers’ piece is at best misleading. It is, of course, not emissions from the electric vehicles, but emissions from electricity generation that are the problem. The reason Victoria’s emissions are so high is because they generate much of their electricity from brown coal (lignite), which is even less efficient (~30%) at generating electricity (per tonne of CO2 emitted) than black coal, which in turn is much less efficient than natural gas5. Chambers also states that, strangely enough, electric vehicles provide greater environmental benefits in Tasmania, where almost all electricity comes from hydroelectric generation. What a surprise!
So, this article should have been an explanation of why we need to dump coal-fired electricity generation, but the climate change deniers at The Australian have attempted to skew it the other way, to indicate that electric vehicles are environmentally dangerous. If Chambers wrote his headline, he is either an idiot or dishonest. If someone else did, then Chambers is simply a lackey who does what he is told. Either way, to call him a journalist is overstating his capabilities.
- Chambers, G., August 27, 2019. Electric vehicles have ‘higher carbon emissions’. The Australian.