When it comes to climate change, transportation is one of the most important things we need to consider.
Governments are pushing to invest in clean, electric vehicles to limit the ecological impact of our travel.
And car manufacturers are scrambling to get our attention (and money) to invest in their latest electric vehicle models, fighting for new technologies.
But according to Paris Marx, author of the book ‘Road to Nowhere’, these companies are wrong in their approach to technology.
Transportation shapes society.
Transport plays a vital role in our daily lives and in the design and construction of our cities.
“It’s how we get around, how we get to work, how we get to the store, how we see the people we care about,” Marx said.
And so, for them, the dominant mode of transportation determines how we design our streets, places of business, workplaces and homes.
But more than that, transportation defines how we live.
Electric cars are not the solution
Technology companies offer to replace vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines – at a fraction of the cost – with electric vehicles that have a very low carbon footprint.
Low does not mean zero.
It is true that fully electric vehicles do not emit waste, but the batteries that power the vehicle, such as lithium and cobalt, contribute to climate change.
“To create an electric car, a lot of minerals have to be mined, and most of them continue to occur in the Global South. And those mines have incredible environmental and health impacts in the places where they are,” Marx explained.
So the priority should not be to replace every car with an electric equivalent, but to rethink mobility in general.
“Focusing too much on the automobile and even now the electric automobile is not the way to solve our mobility problems, but it is time to invest in transit, cycling, walking cities and get people out of cars altogether,” he said.
Changes should be fair
For Marx, change is needed to ensure a better future for our planet, and change must be done in a way that is fair and beneficial to our society as a whole.
In order to do this, we must understand that the change in our activity is part of an important set of changes.
“The mobility system is one part of this, but the policies we take to improve transportation not only for everyone, but for people, we need to pay attention to how they talk to other systems. These improvements have the potential to live in the areas,” he said.
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