Hey, maybe it will work? Credit - public domain

The British government is trying to decide how to force us all into electric cars. That’s the wrong decision to be making anyway, we don’t want to pick a losing technology which means that we don’t want to pick a technology at all. But it’s also true that we don’t want to have a target which insists upon a technology either.

Assume that we do have a harm – car tailpipe emissions. Doesn’t matter whether this is about particularates, NOx or CO2. We’ve identified a harm, we want rid of it.

OK, how? Set a price on it you idiots!

What you do not do is this:

Ordinary motorists face being priced out of driving if the Government goes ahead with proposals demanding that by 2040 every car can cover 50 miles on electric power.

We could indeed solve the pollution problem by insisting that only the GoodThinkariat get to drive in their Zils while everyone else cannot afford to do so. That’s also not how to run a liberal society.

A leaked government consultation called “Road to Zero” proposes the 50-mile zero emission requirement for cars in 22 years’ time.

However, Toyota Motor Europe managing director Tony Walker warned such a measure could put driving beyond the budgets of most people, saying that batteries capable of hitting the 50-mile requirement are too expensive.

No, that’s just not the way to do it. Work out what is the harm being caused by the pollution. We must know this already otherwise we’d not be shouting that we’ve got to stop it, would we? Great, we know the price, now stick that price upon the polluters. We’ll achieve two things from this.

Firstly, any technology which removes the pollution works. We’ve not picked a loser.

Secondly we’ve just bent the entire economy, all of that market experimentation, to solving this pollution problem. Who the hell knows, maybe we’ll all strap a helium balloon to our backs and get there as the wind blows? There’s a decent enough incentive, given that price we’ve added to the pollution, to try it out at least. Or more realistically maybe the version of Skype available in 22 years time won’t hang quite so often so more of us will use it.

Actually, no, the helium balloons are more likely than a Microsoft product that doesn’t hang, aren’t they?

Mr Walker also questioned the government arbitrarily picking dates for targets the industry must achieve.

“Are you are saying somehow you know battery costs will come down?” he asked the committee. “How come you know that and we don’t? It’s too academic and not so practical on battery cost.”

The idea that people who are good at kissing babies do understand the next couple of decades’ worth of battery technology development is, of course, ridiculous. That’s why they shouldn’t be making the decision, isn’t it?

Set a price and bugger off, leaving the rest of us to work it out ourselves.

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Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be

I bet they do it on taxis first. Someone who doesn’t own a car and uses them around town must pay more so a councilor can get get elected by peeps who have three.


“we don’t want to pick a losing technology which means that we don’t want to pick a technology at all” — We simply induce car-buyers to pick a technology, maximizing their own efficiency — which, as we have contrived to set all the prices wrong, reflects our values instead of theirs. Or maybe no one’s values, as we merely “assume that we do have a harm”. This again is surrender to irrational eco-gadflies for the sake of pursuing a gentler, “market-based” form of coercion. As Tim himself proves, “people who are good at kissing babies” should neither be picking winners… Read more »


One problem with your proposal is that it offers little opportunity for graft.
Also little opportunity for politicians to grandstand.
Further it would require all those people researching the subject to publish their working, complete with data and calculations, before going off to do something else.
It is therefore against the interests of the main stakeholders.

bloke in spain
bloke in spain

50 miles on electric power? Easy peasy. Buy two big diesels. Use the first to tow the second for 50 miles, then swop & drive it back. Voila! Two compliant cars.The electric power bit? Oh, turn all the lights on & the sound system at full bore. Obviously.
Or put more concisely.
Which part of fuck-off didn’t you understand?

Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp

It isn’t pollution, it’s just CO2. The premise is stupid. I don’t have to rehearse the arguments or suggest methods, the premise is stupid.


Firstly, any technology which removes the pollution works. We’ve not picked a loser. Dear Tim, you appear to think that electric cars are powered by unicorn farts or angels’ tears. In fact electric cars get their vooma from fossil fuels. Either the fossil fuel plant is under the bonnet of the car, charging the battery on the go, or the fossil fuel plant is somewhat removed from civilisation, belching huge clouds of water vapour which photographed against the light look like grunch. And try as hard as they may, even natural gas fossil fuel plants are still going to emit… Read more »