Electric cars aren't as green as you think they are

B.C. just announced new incentives to encourage electric car ownership. But author Ozzie Zehner says electric cars are a form of denial that encourage everything that's wrong with car culture: urban sprawl, energy over consumption and community division. And, he says, they're not very clean to make.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark arrives at an announcement about incentives for electric cars. (Glen Kugelstadt/CBC)

The government of British Columbia just announced new incentives for electric car owners, who will now be allowed to use HOV lanes, even with no passengers.

"People in those cars, I think, deserve a little more incentive for what they're doing for our environment," said B.C. premier Christy Clark. 

A subsidy to electric cars is ultimately a subsidy to car culture.- Ozzie Zehner

But Ozzie Zehner, author of "Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism," argues subsidies for electric cars are the wrong approach. He says electric cars are a form of denial that encourage everything that's wrong with car culture: urban sprawl, overconsumption, and community division. 

Shifting from gasoline or petrol cars to electric cars is like switching a smoking habit from cloves to menthols. It isn't acceptable for doctors to promote menthol cigarettes, so should environmentally-minded people... or politicians promote alternative fuel cars? Of course not. It's ludicrous.-Ozzie Zehner

He encourages governments to focus on creating walkable neighbourhoods and improving bicycle infrastructure instead.


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