Why electric cars won’t save us:

There are not enough resources to build them

British scientists do the maths and find that we come up short for cobalt, lithium and copper.

The UK Committee on Climate Change report received criticism that it was too much business as usual, particularly with its suggestion that electric cars could replace all the ICE (internal combustion engine) powered cars in the UK, and its lack of interest in alternatives.

Now, a letter from the Natural History Museum’s head of Earth Sciences, Professor Richard Herrington, along with other experts, points out the scale of the problem of building so many electric cars. They calculate that, even with the most efficient batteries available, full electrification of the auto fleet by 2035 would need a lot more mining.

The worldwide impact: If this analysis is extrapolated to the currently projected estimate of two billion cars worldwide, based on 2018 figures, annual production would have to increase for neodymium and dysprosium by 70%, copper output would need to more than double and cobalt output would need to increase at least three and a half times for the entire period from now until 2050 to satisfy the demand.

Separating cobalt from mud and rocks in DR Congo

It would also take a lot of energy to make these cars:

Energy costs for cobalt production are estimated at 7000-8000 kWh for every tonne of metal produced and for copper 9000 kWh/t. The rare-earth energy costs are at least 3350 kWh/t, so for the target of all 31.5 million cars that requires 22.5 TWh of power to produce the new metals for the UK fleet, amounting to 6% of the UK’s current annual electrical usage. Extrapolated to 2 billion cars worldwide, the energy demand for extracting and processing the metals is almost 4 times the total annual UK electrical output.

And then, of course, there is the electricity required to power all these electric vehicles. Building wind farms to generate that much would require more copper and more dysprosium, and building solar farms requires yet more high purity silicon, indium, tellurium, gallium. Professor Herrington notes:

“The urgent need to cut CO2 emissions to secure the future of our planet is clear, but there are huge implications for our natural resources not only to produce green technologies like electric cars but keep them charged.”

We have to stop talking about how electric cars will save us; it takes too much stuff to make them all, puts out too much upfront carbon, and nobody is going to make enough of them fast enough. All that copper and lithium and nickel and aluminum and steel has to come from somewhere. We have to look at getting people out of cars, at making it easier for people to use e-bikes and cargo bikes, transit and feet.

e-bikes for mail delivery

What is the best tool for the job? Cars are convenient for some, but we can’t just build electric powered two and three ton boxes moving one person a few miles. We have to look at alternatives that use less stuff more efficiently. Electric cars won’t save us.

Based on this original article

Reminder – Have Your Say @ Barnet Station Consultations

Public exhibitions at the station on 13 June 2pm-9pm; 14 June 2pm-8pm; 15 June 10am-4pm.

Don’t forget to visit this exhibition today, tomorrow and Saturday this week.

It is the launch of their consultations for the site, and is the first of a number of events being held over the coming months to gauge the views of the community and how the proposals can benefit the local area.

An interesting part of the proposals is a ‘bike hub’ with a cycle shop, better cycle storage, charge points for e-bikes, etc.  Cycling is a key part of the proposals and driven by TfL’s wider brief to switch more people to cycling.

So why not cycle there and give them your 2 cents worth of suggestions and endorsements?  Also get your free cup of coffee!

High Barnet Station Consultation

Don’t Complain – Go There and Have Your Say!

Public exhibitions at the station on 13 June 2pm-9pm; 14 June 2pm-8pm; 15 June 10am-4pm.

Plans are at very early stages, but will include new public space, new affordable homes and new space for businesses plus changes at the station itself.

This exhibition will mark the launch of their consultation for the site, and is the first of a number of events being held over the coming months to gauge the views of the community and how the proposals can benefit the local area.

Jon C has reminded us that it could be an opportunity to ask for decent, covered cycle storage at the station.

So get on your bike and get down there!


Thursday 25th April

Monthly Meeting: AGM followed by talk on the ‘M25 Ride’

The AGM should be relatively swift and painless – once you have volunteered to help! See notice elsewhere in the newsletter. After the coffee break we will have an illustrated talk from Doug Nevell about his cycle route that mirrors the M25 round London. Doug has led groups on this ride several times, including one from Barnet Cyclists, and without cycling on the hard shoulder! All welcome.

Meet: 8pm Carey Hall, Trinity Church Centre, Nether Street, North Finchley N12

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – the time has come

Has the concept of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood reached a turning point that will see it going from a fringe idea to a national or international movement?  Will 90 years of car-oriented development now begin to be rolled back?  The 100 strong turn-out at the excellent UDG-London Living Streets event on 31 Jan 2019, attended by Peter Hale and Charles Harvey, would seem to suggest that the moment has come.

Chris Martin from Urban Movement opened the event by illustrating two diametrically different approaches to urban design, firstly, a road traffic interchange in Huston, Texas, and secondly the entire urban core of Florence, which would fit comfortably within it.   Points that he covered included the need to work with local people to identify and agree traffic cells, the connecting quiet streets, which streets will form the main traffic routes and which of these will need to be improved to become boulevards.   Providing safe crossings where the link streets cross main traffic routes was essential.

Feryal Demirci Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care, Transport and Parks, Hackney talked about the challenges and progress being made in the borough.  Hackney was experiencing rapid population expansion, very poor air quality, congestion, obesity especially in young people, and yet it had low car ownership and over 15 percent of residents cycled to work.    Some streets in the borough had high cycle flows, with Goldsmith Road recording 6000 cyclists per day.  The borough was repurposing kerbside space, with cycle hangers and parklets.  Footways were being prioritised with both cycle hangers and electric vehicle charging points going in the carriageway not on the footway.  School Streets were being promoted, involving timed traffic restrictions around schools, backed by cameras and signs.  Traffic flows were typically half previous levels.   The borough was also introducing restrictions on all but ultra low emission vehicles.  As to low traffic neighbourhoods, over 100 streets had now been filtered.  She gave the impression that while there could be opposition from vehicle users from outside the area, local communities were strongly behind the introduction of schemes.  Play streets had been made much easier and less costly to introduce following creative use of the provisions of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847

Fran Graham from the London Cycling Campaign, argued that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were an effective response to the impact of Satnav, Google maps, Waze etc which has led to increased through-traffic disrupting residential areas in the search for quicker, congestion free routes.  Turning to cycling, she indicated that traffic levels as low as 2000, 1500, or 1000 PCU per day were preferred to enable safe cycling  (PCU – Passenger Car Unit ) This is on a par with  Manual for Streets which cites 100 vehicles per hour peak flow as a threshold level below which pedestrians will share highway space with motorists, and above which they will tend to treat the general path taken by motor vehicles as a ‘road’ to be crossed rather than as a space to occupy.

Laurie Johnston, from the Dulwich Safe Routes to school campaign, observed that regrettably, responsibility for safety is placed on children, not on drivers. (NB research shows that children do not have the cognitive abilities to take responsibility, the law also recognises that they do not have the same capacity as adults). One street is not enough, she said, what is needed is a network of safe door to door routes

Rachel Aldred, for the University of Westminster discussed the research available to date.  The Mini Holland schemes had been assessed comparing areas with interventions with control areas where no changes had been made.  The results were positive with a notable increase in active travel in year 1, which continued into year 2 where there was a recorded reduction in car use. A scheme in Hounslow which involved no more than 2 planters had led new pedestrian and cycle journeys being made, amounting to a £500,000 health benefit.   There were Equality Act reasons for considering low traffic neighbourhoods.  The statistics showed that disabled pedestrians suffered  4-5 times more injuries from motor vehicles per kilometre than the general population.

In the discussion issues that came up included:

·         Traffic Evaporation or Traffic Displacement

·         Using ped-sheds to get a far more accurate view of walkability than just drawing a circle around a point.

·         Local community roadwatch groups to control speeding

·         Involve schools – at least one member of staff to be advocate

·         School streets are valuable but more is needed – children do more than just go to school.

·         Funding of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – S106 funds can be a useful source

Further reading

Guide to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods


This publication provides plenty of detailed information on the physical measures that can be applied, as well as a series of steps to follow to take a scheme from an idea to a safer, cleaner, healthier and more social environment.

LB Barnet Draft (transport) Local Implementation Plan 3 2018-2041

This response to the consultation is from (Barnet Cyclists), the local borough group of London Cycling Campaign (LCC). We represent the interests of cyclists living or working in Barnet and aim to expand the opportunities for all to cycle safely in the borough.


The draft plan in its current form does not fully address the issues faced by Barnet, in particular the lack of safe space for cycling on direct routes and within neighbourhoods.

Our response identifies further challenges and opportunities, focuses on why the borough transport objectives are not sufficiently robust to achieve the desired shift to walking, cycling and public transport set by the Mayor’s Transport Strategy up to 2041, and suggests further measures and targets.

The consultation was published here: https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/Transport_Local_Plan

Our response focussed on four main topics:

  • Strategic Cycle Network
  • Liveable / Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
  • Behavioural Change
  • Additional Targets

Continue reading “LB Barnet Draft (transport) Local Implementation Plan 3 2018-2041”

Let Barnet Council know your views on transport

The council are gathering views until Sunday 9th December on what their transport priorities should be over the next 3 years and looking forward to 2041.

We ask you to view this important consultation and respond here: https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/Transport_Local_Plan

You may wish to focus on your top 3 priorities for your part of Barnet and what you would like to happen. Don’t be put off by the 110-page consultation document – a lot is just copied from the TfL strategy. Look in particular at the delivery plan starting on page 62 and the long terms aims on page 80 to see what they are actually proposing or not proposing.

We met council officials on 4th December and raised three main topics:

  • Strategic Cycle Network
  • Liveable / Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
  • Behavioural Change

You may have other priorities, but if you agree with these here are some bullet points to think about: Continue reading “Let Barnet Council know your views on transport”

An appeal to members in the southern part of the borough

We have been approached by an organisation called THOCH (The Hope of Childs Hill). It runs a bike project at Basing Hill Park (Between Wayside NW11 and the Hendon Way NW2) with professional instructors and help from local volunteers. It teaches basic cycling skills to both adults and children. Times are: 12-2 Saturdays and 2-4 Sundays. They would like help with basic cycle maintenance and leading easy local rides for adults.

Website: www.thoch.org.uk

For further information contact Anthony info@thoch.org.uk

I have done two sessions with them, so if you want a feel of what’s involved, please feel free to contact me charles.harvey@hotmail.co.uk

020 8455 5174 / 07961 194 771.

I feel it’s the sort of organisation Barnet Cyclists should be supporting. You wouldn’t be expected to make a regular commitment. You can turn up and help as and when you can.

Charles Harvey