Why Germany Resists the Transition to Electric Vehicles

Running on Empty: Will Germany’s Car Industry Survive?

DW (2019)

Film Review

This documentary focuses on the resistance of Germany’s government and auto industry to the transition to electric vehicles.

Germany car industry, the world’s largest, contributes 2% to global carbon emissions. Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, their government pledged to produce one million electric vehicles by next year. Without a single major electric vehicle manufacturer, clearly they won’t meet this goal.

The filmmakers contrast Germany with Norway, where 77% of new vehicles are electric. And China, which will ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles after 2027.

Due its failure to transition to electric vehicles (EVs), industry analysts predict the German car industry has only a 50-50 chance of surviving. Many key auto designers are emigrating to other countries where they can work on developing EVs. Moreover without a domestic EV market, environmentally conscious drivers will buy imported EVs instead of Germany’s old fashioned gas guzzlers.

 

London: The Deadly Effects of Air Pollution in Low Income Children

Living, Breathing, London

Directed by Ross Field (2019)

Film Review

With the mainstream media totally focused in carbon emissions, it’s easy to lose sight of the deadly effects of particulate pollution, ie dirty air. This mini-documentary summarizes some alarming research about its devastating health effects, especially in children.

Most of the pollution described consists of tiny carbon particles released in car exhaust. Once these enter the lungs, they are absorbed into the blood stream and cross into the brain.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2014 one out of eight people died as a direct result of air pollution. Most were children. Studies also show that high levels of air pollution also cause depression, child conduct disorder, dementia, low birth weight, abnormal fetal development, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

In the UK, which has been in breach of EU clean air rules for two years, up to 36,000 die annually from air pollution. Families in low income neighborhoods, which are always closest to freeways and busy thoroughfares, always show the highest level of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other air pollutants.

On a commercial note, the UK’s growing air pollution problem translates into fantastic business opportunities, creating a lucrative market for innovative safety masks, crib filters and jars of fresh air.

The filmmakers feel a better solution is to lobby the UK government to phase out fossil fuel cars by 2025 (instead of 2040) and to reduce public transport fares (instead of increasing them like the present government).

Although Britain’s electric vehicle fleet is growing fast, it still represents only 1-2% of the country’s total automobile market.