Student Life

Student Life

Restoring the planet with electric transport – Earth Day 2021

This April we’re celebrating the 51st anniversary of Earth Day and this year’s theme is restoring the planet. One of the many great innovations that has and will continue to become ever more central to creating a sustainable planet is the electrification of transport. It’s an exciting revolution with even the car enthusiasts of Top Gear amazed by their performance. Having been a fan of the show for as long as I can remember, it’s great to see one of the ex-hosts, James May – who owns two electric cars, speak so enthusiastically about them. It’s not just cars that are turning electric though. You may have seen electric busses, metro services and scooters in your city too.

 

Why go electric?

There are many, many reasons why the electrification of our transport system is a great thing. Not least because electric vehicles run on batteries which reduce emissions dramatically compared to petrol and diesel powered engines. If they’re charged from renewable energy, emissions are reduced even further. Furthermore, since they run on clean energy they don’t create pollution so they are much better for public health, especially in deeply congested cities.

I’ve always been passionate about clean energy. Having studied Geography for my undergraduate degree, I am well aware of how serious the climate crisis we are in is. Hearing about it on the news is one thing but studying it showed me the extent to which we have damaged our planet and the urgent need to take action. Since the industrial revolution, we have pumped out so much carbon dioxide and altered the Earth to an extent that geologists now believe we have entered a new geological epoch ‘the Anthropocene’. To add context, the last epoch began 12,000 years ago.

 

What does the future of transport look like?

With the UK government having moved the ban of the sale of petrol and diesel cars forward to 2030, the electric car revolution is on the road to accelerate, which is a huge step forward in our goal to restore the planet. Not only will it reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, but it’ll also make our air much cleaner and healthier to breathe.

One highly influential person that continually has new innovative ideas about the future is Tesla’s controversial CEO Elon Musk. I’ve found it interesting listening to him talk about his expectations of the transport industry. He’s floated the idea of creating electric planes with vertical take-off as well as building reusable rockets with his company SpaceX. At the moment these seem very revolutionary, perhaps even impossible ideas, but they’re certainly thought provoking, and make you wonder how we’ll advance over the next few decades.

 

Newcastle’s e-scooters

Newcastle has recently brought in Neuron e-scooters for a 12-month trial period. They’ve proven incredibly popular so far; if you live in Newcastle you will have seen just how many people have been trying them out. Their convenient and offer a great clean alternative to getting an Uber. Their also easy to use – just download the Neuron App, submit your driving or provisional driving licence number and a payment card and you’re ready to go. I tried one out for the first time a few weeks ago as I was in a rush having only left 15 minutes to walk to the train station (it should take 25). I was about to book an Uber when I saw a scooter parked on the pavement outside my accommodation. I quickly downloaded the app, hopped on the scooter and it got me there with time to spare. I was amazed at how fast it went – on ‘high speed mode’ they will go up to 20mph, which on a scooter is actually quite fast! It was a fun enjoyable experience and most of all; it was cleaner than the Uber alternative.

Creating a clean energy transport system is key to reversing the damage of decades of intense fossil fuel consumption. It’s an exciting journey that the Earth will thank us for.

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