Vallance: It’s impossible for majority to buy electric car
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Alastair Lewis, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of York, argued that particulate matter emitted from electric car tyres is a massive risk to public health. He argued that it posed a larger problem than CO2 emissions coming from petrol and diesel cars.
Mr Lewis added: “PM 2.5 is considered to cause the largest amount of damage to public health… Nitrogen dioxide [from diesel fumes] comes second.
“When everybody owns a low emissions vehicle, low emission zones become a toothless control lever to try to manage air pollution.
“London in the future when we have a largely electrified fleet of vehicles,” he told the Telegraph.
He also said that charges for low emission zones are likely to be replaced with alternative levies as drivers switch to electric vehicles.
The amount of air pollution is growing because motorists are driving even larger vehicles with more substantial tyres.
Tyre wear is the second largest microplastic pollutant in the environment, after single use plastic, and accounts for up to 50 percent of air particulate emission from road transport
Professor Lewis, who also chairs the Department for Transport Science Advisory Council said: “When everybody owns a low emissions vehicle, low emission zones become a toothless control lever to try to manage air pollution.
“A world where we [have] jam-packed roads full of electric cars [also] isn’t a particularly attractive one… Even if they are electric, [they] will generate lots of particles.
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“At some point in the future when most of those cars have disappeared, a different form of air pollution control [is likely].
“We do have to project forward about how we’re going to manage vehicles in large cities like London in the future when we have a largely electrified fleet of vehicles.”
Professor Lewis’s remarks have been criticised by the AA, with the motoring organisation saying the professor’s words would act as a deterrent and put people off from moving to electric.
Luke Bosdet, AA spokesperson, said he was opposed to the idea of any tax on an electric vehicle.
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He added: “Electric vehicles don’t produce emissions from their tail pipes.
“They are a massive leap forward. The technology will evolve to reduce anything that comes from the tyres.
“You should not deter people from buying electric cars.”
Last year, Channel 4’s Dispatches programme discovered that certain groups of potentially harmful pollutants are worse in some new hybrid cars than in new diesels.
Hybrids contain both an electric motor and a fuel tank, making them heavier and less efficient in terms of needing to fill up more often.
With an electric motor, hybrids can reduce exhaust emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.
From 2030, the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned, with most new hybrid sales being outlawed five years later.
The Government’s net zero goals are some of the most ambitious proposals in the world after they were unveiled in the Build Back Greener document in October 2021.
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