Skip to content

The government’s eco-edict that all new cars be electric in 15 years is doomed to backfire – because old bangers can be greener, says JOHN NAISH

February 5, 2020

By Paul Homewood



A dose of realism at long last!


For those readers left scratching their heads over the Government’s ban on sales of all new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2035, here’s what I — a former Fleet Street motoring editor — will be doing to help save the planet.

Our family car, a VW Golf, has at least a decade left in its petrol engine. Good care and servicing should stretch that to 2033. Then I’ll buy the very latest-technology petrol or diesel car, just before the pre‑ban sales scramble causes prices to spiral.

Why? Because I’m convinced it is the greenest thing to do all round.


The government’s attempt to meet its near-zero carbon target by bringing forward by five years its ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars is well‑intentioned. Yet it is doomed to backfire as badly as a Model T Ford.

We all know well from the great diesel debacle what happens when politicians grab the steering wheel on eco policy.

John Naish says his VW Golf could have another 13 years left on the clock (pictured, a 2018 model)

Back in 2001, the then Chancellor Gordon Brown slashed road tax and fuel duty on diesel cars because some boffin in a white coat had told him they emit 15 per cent less CO2 greenhouse-gas carbon dioxide than petrol cars.

Sales rocketed as eco-minded drivers rushed to buy.

But then some other boffins discovered diesels spewed out vastly more damaging nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide than petrol cars.

What’s more, their exhausts send asthma and heart disease rates soaring.

So punishing new taxes got slapped on diesels. Costs spiralled and re-sale prices plummeted. Those well-meaning motorists got taken to the cleaners.

Now we are experiencing the great electric car push — and that is set to be still more of a shocker, both for people and the planet. At a local level, we require massive amounts of new infrastructure to be built to support electric cars.

We will need at least 25 million new roadside charging points — the equivalent of installing 4,000 new ones a day, starting yesterday — with roads and pavements having to be ripped up in the process which will, of course, create plumes of emissions.

And where on earth will the electricity needed come from?

More than a third of Britons commute by car. Imagine, in 2035 and beyond, each of those motorists arriving home at night and hurriedly plugging in their vehicles at around the same time.

Malcolm McCulloch, head of Oxford University’s Energy and Power group, has warned that the National Grid will need another 20 gigawatts of generating capacity — double the amount currently generated by all the UK’s nuclear power stations — to cope.

The Engineer magazine says that charging an electric car at home with a medium-speed charger is like ‘leaving the electric shower on all night. If just a few people in a street decided to do that, it’d blow the local distribution fuse.’

Indeed, the whole system may fail.

Ofgem, Britain’s energy regulator, thinks this can be solved by making motorists pay more for peak-rate recharging. This would create a two-tier system in which lower-earning commuters would be penalised and effectively taxed out of work.

The government’s electric car dream wantonly ignores the other rapidly growing demands on our supply of ‘clean’ electricity, including Ofgem’s new drive to stop us using gas to heat our homes —and to use electric instead.

On top of this is our ever-spiralling use of internet streaming, downloading, phoning and texting. By 2025, it is predicted that the server ‘farms’ storing digital data from billions of devices will be using 20 per cent of all the world’s electricity.

So we’re going to need a lot more juice, or face regular blackouts such as the one last August that caused rush-hour chaos across the UK’s biggest train stations, railways, roads and airports, and left almost a million homes in the dark after two major generator outages.

The economic impact would be greater still if a third of Britain’s workforce couldn’t make it to work the next morning.

We can’t rely on wind-farms or solar power to meet such needs. We don’t have the technology to store large amounts of electricity, so it has to be generated on demand.

More power stations powered by fossil fuels or nuclear fission thus appear the only answer — at least, for the moment.

Another problem threatens to crash the electric party — sourcing the metals needed to make the car batteries.

The newer electric cars, like this VW Mk7 e-Golf, may not be greener overall than an old banger, says John Naish

Some experts fear that the planet’s available reserves of lithium are insufficient to make enough lithium-ion batteries to replace all of our petrol-driven vehicles.

Others say that the cobalt needed comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, infamous for its use of child labour and human rights abuses.


Most worrying of all is the need for rare-earth metals such as neodymium, essential for manufacturing the magnets that make electric car motors run. Mining neodymium releases such vast amounts of radioactive contamination and other murderous toxins such as sulphuric acid that only one nation allows it: China.

China controls about 80 per cent of the global market for rare earth metals and their export is tightly controlled.

Oil gave Arab nations power over the West for most of the 20th century; today neodymium may give China a similar energy weapon. Already the Chinese government is threatening to restrict supplies as retaliation against U.S. tariffs.

Some may feel that risking a trade war may be a fair price to pay for greener motoring, but swapping our petrol cars for electric ones is not guaranteed to deliver that for all the reasons outlined above.

What’s even more shocking are the figures I unearthed when our smug middle-class hippy neighbours began braying about how ‘green’ they’d been by trading their year-old petrol car for a new hybrid.


I discovered that manufacturing an average car generates more than 17 tonnes of CO2 — that’s almost the amount generated by gas and electricity use over three years in a typical UK home.

(That’s why it’s ‘often better to keep your old banger on the road than to upgrade to a greener model’, according to The Guardian newspaper’s green-living blog.)

The situation is even worse with electric cars. A Swedish-government report says that making the battery alone releases as much CO2 as eight years’ worth of driving a petrol vehicle.

So, to return to my opening point: all we need to do to make a green difference is use our existing cars sparingly and keep them going for longer.

Of course, that doesn’t suit the carmaking lobbyists who sit at the Government’s ear. They want us to keep buying new ones.

Come 2033, when I’m finally in the market for a new car, I predict that technological advances will have made fossil-fuel-engined motors significantly cleaner.

The signs are already there in the technical journals. One of the most promising developments is in the world of . . . wait for it . . . cleaner diesel engines with far fewer emissions.

You couldn’t make it up. But actually, that’s what the Government is doing with its ‘greener’ motoring policies.

  1. Stonyground permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:17 am

    Modern cars are not only cleaner but they do last longer. My old Saab 93 had done 140,000 miles when the gearbox packed in. If the only available cars were electric it would have been worth it to have it fixed. My current car has around 60,000 on the clock, it will be meticulously cared for from now on in the hope that it outlives me. In the meantime I can see a growing industry in reconditioned cars growing up.

    • February 5, 2020 10:20 am

      I can see a lot of stockpiling of ICE cars as we get nearer to 2035 (or whatever date it becomes – the date seems to change faster than the weather).

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 5, 2020 11:53 am

        Just a thought: the number of ICE drivers after 2035 will get smaller and smaller so the duty collected on fuel will diminish – unless, a) the Gov of the day slaps on more fuel duty or, b) finds a way to recover a mileage tax from EVs – or both.

      • Robert Christopher permalink
        February 5, 2020 1:56 pm

        Without fuel, what would be the point?

  2. February 5, 2020 10:18 am

    It seems we are now living in a country where we can no longer chose how we wish to spend our money and live our lives. What gives a bunch of politicians the right to tell us how we can live our lives? I don’t recall voting for all this green crap to be imposed on us, when they haven’t told us whether it is feasible and at a cost which will be enormous but they haven’t told us what it will be.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 5, 2020 11:56 am

      The irony of this diktat is that CC does not, of itself, kill people whereas tobacco consumption does. Strange that, having found their muscles, Government is not slapping an outright ban on smoking. Or will that be next?

    • Patrick Healy permalink
      February 7, 2020 9:40 am

      To think that a so called conservative government would do this is scary.
      Just imagine if we had elected marxists – oh wait a minute!

  3. Athelstan. permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:20 am

    ban diesel, petrol, hybrid!

    one of the least, a tory goon, michael gove, jumped the shark when making this eejit prognostication, albeit the limp dumbs would have made the promise ‘by next week if poss’ and the lav lot ‘end of the week probs’ not only parliament but the whole of ‘woke’ UK administration fanatically wills suicide via the green agenda – ON YOU!

    When all is said, the real question here is one of democratic choice and there isn’t one – is there?
    For it seems to me, in or out of the Empire the message is green whether you want it or not and that is dictatorship no ifs nor buts.

    we never voted for it, we were never asked, but we’re getting it anyway, go green, get stuffed literally and in the metaphorical.

  4. Up2snuff permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:20 am

    Far too much of politics today – in the UK and elsewhere in the world, mostly the developed (western) world – is taken up with ‘grandstanding’ and hubris. “We want to be world leading …. ” “This will demonstrate to the world …. ” “We are a nation that punches above its weight …. ” and blah blah.

    And thus we have ridiculous railways that will travel far faster than necessary but will not allow passengers onto trains between cities or provide an increase in capacity that the railway industry wants. Pointless CO2 expending ‘jollies’ (a.k.a. conferences) that do not achieve their aims, other than expanding goals, rules and taxes. It is then topped off with the manufacture of more and more stuff inflating economies & dustbins and landfill together with the bills for the taxpaying public to finance it all.

    Vanity, oh vanity!

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 5, 2020 11:58 am


  5. George Lawson permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:21 am

    What a catastrophic statement for the state of the car industry and the British economy generally. Johnson is writing off 100 years of engineering excellence in car design and domestic transport in this country just to suit a green agenda. Is he under the direction of his ‘green’ girlfriend, and are we in for a spate of additional silly green legislation after all the efforts to get him elected? Does he have no respect for the views of his friend across the Atlantic who seems to be doing very well on his non-green policy leading to wonderful growth in the US economy. The US is also leading in the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in spite of a growth in the number of vehicles of every description on American roads. Does this not send a message to the United Kingdom that vehicle emissions cannot be the problem? Come on Boris, we were hoping that you would slow down this green madness to economic doom, not speed it up.

  6. Will davis permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:24 am

    This article sums it up well. Needs to be on the BBC and the rest of MSM .Not much chance of that!
    It shows how little this government understands about energy/electricity. Think of a stupid policy and then wait for the backlash to rehash the policy. Result a fudge which will increase CO2 emissions.

    • Gas Geezer permalink
      February 5, 2020 9:51 pm

      Send it to every cabinet minister including the PM .

  7. Ivan permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:26 am

    The question this begs is to what extent and over what timescale the carbon emissions of the car and battery manufacturers are reduced.

    • Patrick Healy permalink
      February 7, 2020 9:47 am

      ‘carbon’ emissions.
      Please Ivan do not use the illiterate terminology of the enemy.
      Do you mean Carbon Dioxide or lumps of coal coming out of exhausts.
      Sorry – not meant to insult you, but it really bugs me.

  8. Steve permalink
    February 5, 2020 10:29 am

    The rate of heart disease and asthma did not actually increase in line with the fivefold increase in sales of diesel cars. Heart disease was far worse in the past when levels of all types of pollution were four times higher than today. Parts of London like Westminster and Knightsbridge have much healthier populations than Tower Hamlets but similar pollution. New diesels already can emit zero NO2 with adblue and lorries use this now.
    Various political doctors have used. spurious statistics to make a name for themselves and along with eco lawyers and UN alarmist bureaucrats they have brainwashed the public into believing that air quality has deteriorated when in fact it fails UN standards because the standards have been tightened to a level way higher than in the third world
    This had been done in order to follow UN agendas which include use of electric cars. The actual CO2 figures including generation, losses and production did not add up so they turned to pollution in order to get their way.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      February 5, 2020 11:16 am

      There has been no discernible effect on heart disease or respiratory illnesses as a consequence of the drastic reduction in PMs and other pollutants in the air. If anything, for the first decades of the improvement in air quality, heart disease increased.

      That’s why we don’t see simple graphs of decreasing air pollution since 1970 with a nice correlation with deaths from things air pollution are supposed to cause.

      • George Lawson permalink
        February 5, 2020 11:37 am

        Indeed. it was an article in the German site NoTricksZone last year that reported that over 100 top respiratory specialists in Germany had been asked to give their opinions on whether vehicle emissions had ant effect on their patients health, and without exception they all said that although emissions were a pollutant, there was no proof whatsoever that it was injurious to the health of their patients. This is surely proven by the fact that we don’t see masses of people collapsing in the busy streets of places like London, Birmingham and Manchester. We just see tens of thousands of people enjoying life. Why do those shouting the loudest refuse to recognise these facts?

    • chaswarnertoo permalink
      February 5, 2020 1:40 pm

      Modern adblue (urea) diesels are nearly as clean as petrol cars. ‘Electric’ cars are coal fired.
      This is insanity.

  9. Vernon E permalink
    February 5, 2020 11:14 am

    No point in banging away here about it. Write (email these days) to your MP – stress on him r her that when the public wakes up to the enormity of te PM’s proposals they needn’t expect five more years. Hopefully Farage will be snapping at their heels and local elections, by-elections and defections will get rid of this pathetic bunch long before the “fixed term”,.

  10. Ian Miller permalink
    February 5, 2020 11:35 am

    The Christian religion has been taken over by the new ‘Climate Change’ religion to save not ourselves, – but instead the planet and To Hell with the PEOPLE !
    It seems that Boris’s government, not understanding the voters’ reason for electing him and quashing all dissenting views, the ‘hate-the-people’ Climate Change – Extinction Rebellion is fast becoming a newly embedded totalitarian dictatorship with an avowed intent to impoverish all of us.

  11. Ian Cook permalink
    February 5, 2020 11:41 am

    Like all of the Anti-Capitalist Climate Change scam it is really about demanding money with menaces. What they are saying, most directly through the useful idiot Thunberg is, ‘give us your money or the kid gets it’.

  12. keith permalink
    February 5, 2020 12:42 pm

    Have written to my MP about this and the OFGEM report registering my anger. Not holding out for any reply though.

  13. Robert Christopher permalink
    February 5, 2020 3:17 pm

    “But then some other boffins discovered diesels spewed out vastly more damaging nitrogen oxide and nitrogen dioxide than petrol cars.”


    It was common knowledge in the 1960s that that was the case, and would be, past 2020 even! They might not have known the names of the compounds, but they knew they were to be avoided.
    Rewriting History again!

  14. Alan Davidson permalink
    February 5, 2020 3:40 pm

    What % of the UK population have residences without an adjacent private parking space where their EV can be charged overnight? 40%? Maybe more? People obviously are not going to be trailing charging cables across the pavement outside their house. No idea how this ridiculous plan for all-EVs could ever be feasible.

    • February 5, 2020 4:22 pm

      According to the National Grid, it i% I believe

      • jack broughton permalink
        February 6, 2020 9:41 pm

        Suspect that your typo?? is actually correct: i = square root of -1, an imaginary number.

  15. Phil O'Sophical permalink
    February 5, 2020 8:48 pm

    The costs and practicalities are absurd, but not as absurd as the fact that it will affect the temperature of the planet not one jot.

    The Emperor has no clothes. Once again people are misdirected into discussing methods and timescales rather than the fact that the Green Industrial Complex is naked. It’s raison d’être is fraudulent.

    It is an unholy alliance; for some (too many and in too many ways to list here – from industry to academics to writers) it is a money- or career-making scam; for others it is an easy way (they think) to be popular – virtue-signalling – or to avoid social media and MSM censure; and for still more (XR, etc) it is a way to bring western civilisation to its knees. When the Secretary General of the UN begins a speech (COP25) with four straight lies, yet no one reacts or rebuts, you know you are in trouble.

    But the greatest irony is that by the time Boris’s ban kicks in we could be well into a period where the earth is cooling and which will be unavoidably noticeable to everyone.

    Prof Valentina Zharkova believes, and to my knowledge no one has disproved the conclusions of her team’s recent research on the magnetic flux cycles within the sun and their relation to sun spots, we are heading into a period similar to the Maunder minimum, though not so severe as there are others cycles that do not align this time.

  16. February 6, 2020 12:34 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    Highly worth reading. Maybe Gove could read it too cos the man is a gibbering idiot if he thinks this plan will work.

  17. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 6, 2020 1:00 am

    I think I have a solution to the electricity supply problem.
    The government should construct giant car parks on the top of mountains. Every night the drivers of EVs could leave their vehicles at the bottom where teams of horses would drag them up to the top.
    In the morning horses pulling carriages could transfer the drivers back to their vehicles, which (with a shove) could coast downhill regeneratively charging their battery.
    There will be an accumulation of horse sh*t but politicians know how to handle that.

  18. Coeur de Lion permalink
    February 6, 2020 2:47 pm

    UK produces one and a bit per cent of global CO2 so nothing we do will make any difference.
    I’m nipping over to France to get another right hand drive Citroen if I can survive the long queue of other buyers. Will the government ban ICE imports? That’s gonna go down well! Think it through

  19. February 6, 2020 7:54 pm

    Meanwhile SUV sales are booking.

  20. Ian Travers permalink
    February 8, 2020 3:59 pm

    I guess electric cars will still need tarmac to run on. Now isn’t tarmac made with a ‘heavy’ fraction of crude oil? So won’t we still need to get that oil out of the ground? And what will we then do with the vast surfeit of the lighter fractions from the crude, the ones that now power most of our transport, heat many of our homes and workplaces, etc?

Comments are closed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: