EV’s ‘too expensive’ to tackle air pollution alone, says EIC

Electric cars could be up to five times more expensive than other methods of tackling air pollution on our roads, a new report from the Environmental Industries Commission (EIC) has found.

The report claims that four other technologies should be deployed alongside electric cars to tackle Britains air quality crisis, including replacing old diesel cars with newer models and retrofitting 10,000 old buses with the latest emissions control exhaust systems.

The report also recommends using renewable diesel on construction site generators and applying photocatalytic treatments to polluted roads.

Photocatalytic coatings essentially ‘eat’ pollution by reacting with nitrogen oxides in the air to convert them to nitric acid, which is then neutralised to form calcium nitrate, a harmless liquid fertiliser. 

The tables below show the costs of reducing nitrogen oxides and particulate matter for the various technologies.

Public good

EIC director Matthew Farrow said: “Britain has an air pollution crisis. Electric vehicles have the potential to transform air quality but they are only one part of the jigsaw and in the short term appear relatively expensive compared to the other technologies modelled in our report.

“To protect public health we must make meaningful cuts in air pollution as soon as possible and the truth is we need to use all the cost effective technologies at our disposal alongside an electric car roll out.

“An additional benefit is the significant number of ‘green jobs’ that air pollution control technologies can create. The Government needs to facilitate and support this full range of solutions.”

Air pollution is thought to contribute to more than 29,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.  In April, the UK Government was ordered by the Supreme Court to improve air quality standards and reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere.

In response to that ruling, the Government released a consultation in September, laying out its plans for improving air quality. The consultation calls for a number of low-emission Clean Air Zones, and also recognised that a range of different policy measures and technologies will be needed rather than one fix-all solution.

Independent body?

Outside of technology, the EIC report also calls for the establishment of a statutory Air Quality Committee.

Much like the Climate Change Committee, the AQC would be independent of Government, and be required to report annually to Parliament on UK progress in meeting legal air pollution limits and on the effectiveness of government policies in delivering progress.

Brad Allen

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