Electric cars still the greener option by far

Letter to the editor, in today's SCMP: http://www.scmp.com/comment/letters/article/1938603/letters-editor-april...

I refer to the article, “Electric shock – Tesla cars in Hong Kong more polluting than petrol models” (April 13). The Bernstein report quoted in the article presents a distorted picture, skewing the data to fit the author’s investment portfolio. Not surprising, given the report’s author’s oil and gas background and investments.

The most outrageous distortion is the choice of HK Electric in the estimation of carbon intensity, while completely excluding CLP, whose carbon dioxide emissions are 30 per cent lower. CLP generates three-quarters of the electricity, and powers 70 per cent of the electric vehicles, in Hong Kong. Correct that one distortion, and the report result is reversed.

Bernstein uses artificial fuel economy figures; production emissions are exaggerated, and the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the extraction, refinement and transportation of oil is understated.

All environmental protection agencies and governments globally recognise the benefits of electric vehicles, and support and promote their adoption. One distorted report from an oil company investor does not change that. The truth is that electric vehicles, even when powered by dirty coal, are still cleaner than comparable petrol vehicles today. In most cases, comparable petrol vehicles pollute at least 50 per cent more.

Hong Kong has already seen a 90 per cent reduction in emissions harmful to air quality from power generation over the past 20 years. Commitments for the coming 10 years will further reduce carbon dioxide emissions by at least 50 per cent. An electric vehicle purchased today will get cleaner in the coming years, as power generation continues to improve, while a petrol car will get dirtier, as the engine deteriorates.

The only valid point in the whole biased Bernstein report is that Hong Kong needs a cleaner fuel mix for electricity generation. Such a migration to cleaner and more renewable energy is inevitable, and in progress. We as a community should support that, because it is not just electric vehicles that are powered by our electricity grid.

Mark Webb-Johnson, chairman, Charged Hong Kong