#Air, #Climate Urgency, #Mobility

Orange News: The European Parliament approved a bill to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars after 2035. This decision has sparked a debate among supporters and opponents of the bill. While the bill passed with a narrow margin, it sends a clear message that the shift towards electric vehicles (EVs) is a necessary step towards reducing harmful emissions.

The transportation sector is responsible for about 20% of Europe’s total CO2 emissions and is a significant contributor to air pollution, which leads to respiratory diseases, heart disease, and stroke. However, the increasing affordability and technological advancements of EVs have facilitated the shift towards zero-emission vehicles, which have been incentivized by governments worldwide.

Despite the benefits of transitioning to EVs, it will require significant investments in infrastructure such as charging stations, electricity grids, and battery technology to store electricity from renewable energy sources. Critics argue that hundreds of thousands of jobs in the internal combustion engine manufacturing industry are at risk, while opponents of the bill have raised concerns about job losses. On the other hand, proponents argue that the bill provides a clear timeline for European car manufacturers to shift towards EVs and help the EU achieve its goal of becoming a climate-neutral economy by 2050. This shift towards EVs is also an opportunity for Europe to drive investment in the EV industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero, and address the issue of battery waste.

In Germany, a coalition of politicians and industry leaders is calling for a revision of the EU’s planned combustion engine ban. They argue that the ban would have negative economic consequences and harm the country’s auto industry. This stance suggests that Germany views the climate transition as a threat to its economy rather than an opportunity to drive innovation and investment in the EV industry.

While the shift towards EVs is not without challenges, it is a necessary step towards a more sustainable future. The EU must continue to work towards its climate goals while addressing the concerns of all stakeholders.

As Germany and the European Union continue to debate the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars after 2035, the rest of the world has been making strides in transitioning to a low-carbon future.

China has taken a significant leap towards a zero-emission transport, primarily due to the central government’s robust policies supporting the development of electric vehicles (EVs). These policies have enabled China to become the largest market and manufacturer of EVs worldwide, with sales of almost 2.9 million EVs in 2021, a significant increase from the previous year. Moreover, the government aims to further expand the EV market in China by increasing the proportion of EVs in new car sales to 50% by 2035. This accomplishment presents a massive opportunity for the country and the rest of the world.

One of the factors that have propelled China’s success in the EV market is the partnership between Chinese EV manufacturers and European companies. By leveraging each other’s strengths, they can increase their competitiveness in the global market, develop technology to improve product quality, and reduce production costs. Additionally, Chinese EV companies are exploring and developing autonomous driving technology, providing various battery exchange solutions, and introducing self-developed battery technology.

To maintain its leadership position, the Central Government has outlined technological R&D guidance for the future, focusing on battery technology and high-energy density batteries, as well as fast-charging technology such as high-power fast charging and wireless charging. Moreover, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as autonomous driving technology, intelligent driving assistance systems, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology may also be a focus of EV R&D.

However, there are challenges that must be addressed in both R&D and popularization of EVs. The high cost of batteries is a significant component of EV costs, and more affordable battery materials and technology must be developed to reduce EV costs. Another challenge is the need for significant investment and time in building charging infrastructure.

Governments, businesses, and society demonstrate a cross-sector collaboration to address challenges and increase the use of renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions, such as expand the grid capacity and enhance power supply stability.

In the recent budget, the finance secretary of the Hong Kong SAR government proposed green technology as a priority area for Hong Kong’s economic development. This presents an excellent opportunity for Hong Kong to take the lead in promoting Chinese green technology and developing sustainable solutions that benefit both the environment and the economy. Leveraging local institutions and science parks in research and development, promoting the adoption of green technology, and decarbonizing the transport sector would not only contribute to global efforts to reduce carbon emissions but also create new economic opportunities and jobs in the growing green technology sector.

To further advance this commitment, Hong Kong should align with mainland China’s policies and take the lead in promoting Chinese green technology. By doing so, Hong Kong can play an essential role in bridging East and West and promoting the transition to a low-carbon society and a sustainable future.

Hong Kong businesses should identify their role in advancing mainland China’s EV development. For example, a local bus company established a partnership with a mainland manufacturer to develop the world’s first double-decker 3-axle hydrogen fuel cell bus. This partnership highlights Hong Kong’s commitment to sustainability and addressing environmental challenges.

The transition towards a more sustainable future is critical for both Hong Kong and the rest of the world. As we face mounting climate challenges, we must work together to reduce carbon emissions and promote green technologies. By supporting the development of EVs and other sustainable solutions, we can create a more sustainable future while simultaneously generating economic opportunities and creating jobs. Hong Kong’s strategic location, world-class institutions, and skilled workforce put it in an excellent position to drive the transition to a low-carbon society and a sustainable future. It is essential for Hong Kong to seize this opportunity and align itself with China’s ambitious green technology goals.


Originally published on Orange News on 15 Mar 2023. Written by Lawrence Iu.