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January 15, 2009

Maybe we've got this transport thing wrong?

Forgive me a bit of a Clarkson moment, but maybe all this third-runway, High Speed Train news is a mistake.

I’ve come to this conclusion for one reason: Look which mode of transport is seeing the greatest improvements in energy efficiency, and is closest to becoming CO2 neutral.

Tesla RoadsterIt’s the car.

Planes look likely to pump out greenhouse gases for another 100 years or so – there’s no realistic alternative to kerosene. Its high-altitude dispersion of those chemicals also makes them even more dangerous.

High Speed Trains run on electricity. Which comes from power stations. Most of this, in the UK, at the moment, means coal or gas. And if you think the future of electricity generation is totally green, well, just look at Kingsnorth.

Fast trains also use a lot of electricity. Existing cars are arguably about as green as high-speed trains which run on coal-supplied electricity.

So to cars… hydrogen models are a reality and electric ones are there as well (albeit with the same problems as trains.)

The next five years are likely to see enormous growth in the number of CO2-free cars being produced. While I wasn’t blown away by the new Prius (a measly 50mpg) there are models like the Tesla and the Bolt which might actually be the future.

Greenpeace would choke on their organic muesli, but maybe the long-term eco-friendly choice is to build better motorways with less congestion?

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