Reducing hot air in cars


04 February 2009

The Times featured in its letters section (3 February) one from RSC chief executive, Dr Richard Pike, highlighting the opportunity to consider the future of the automotive industry and carbon emissions.

Sir,

If we are really serious about meeting carbon dioxide emission targets, the hydrocarbon internal combustion engine should cease to exist beyond 2020. Tinkering with current models merely postpones decisive action. 

Instead, there should be immediate priority on electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, with these being sourced by renewable and low-carbon power generation.

According to one major energy corporation, if unconstrained, world oil production will peak at 130 million barrels per day by 2040 (50% more than currently). This will be at a time when, without massive carbon capture and storage, actual production would have to be limited to just 15 million barrels per day to honour emission commitments. 

The political, economic and social challenges are enormous in addressing the whole range of transport, heating and power applications, supported by innovative well-funded science and creative scientists. 

The downturn in the automotive industry surely offers time to pause and ask where cars are heading. 

Yours,

Dr Richard Pike, 
Chief Executive, Royal Society of Chemistry

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