Electric Vehicles & Climate Migration
Updated: May 26
Climate Migration is Far From Insignificant
The state of the Earth deteriorates despite the many policies made by various countries to mitigate the issue of climate change. Climate change continues to render some regions of the world unlivable, which then forces people from affected areas to migrate elsewhere. This phenomenon is known as climate migration. Those that are unfortunate enough to be driven from their homes due to environmental conditions are known as climate migrants.
Climate migration affects people’s quality of life, especially those who live in impoverished, rural areas with poor infrastructure that are highly susceptible to disasters. This could refer to extreme weather conditions like heavy rainfall, rising sea levels for those living in coastal areas, droughts, and many more.
According to the UNHCR, climate migrants will increase exponentially as more time passes. Moreover, the Institute for European Politics predicts that by 2050, there will be as much as 1.2 billion climate migrants in the world.
The above is a graph illustrating the number of displaced people in the world over years, and the reasons why they are displaced, between natural disasters and conflicts & violence. In the total number of displaced people, it can be seen that the number of people displaced due to natural disasters outweigh the number of people displaced from their homes due to conflicts & violence. This suggests another aspect as to why the climate crisis should be taken far more seriously than it is right now.
Technology of a Future World: Electric Vehicles
While all this is happening, we are at the same time witnessing a new era in the world of transport with the ever-growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs).
The concept of electric vehicles has existed even since the 20th century – and even then, did not necessarily go around as a rare sighting, at least in places such as 20th century Manhattan where roughly a third of cars on roads were electric.
It is evident, the way that the world as a whole becomes more and more welcoming of electric vehicles, bringing with it the immense untapped potential it has for the environment, tackling important issues such as fossil fuel reliance and greenhouse gas emissions – all of which are issues which we currently face with gas-powered cars. To place things into perspective, in 2020 EV and hybrid sales made up a total of 10% of car sales in Europe. Some nations are even planning to cut out the sale of gas-powered cars as a whole by 2040, as expressed in the recent COP26.
So…how can climate migration and EVs possibly be connected?
The respective links between climate migration to the environment, and EVs to the environment are abundantly obvious, but to each other? Perhaps not as much. However, it definitely is not unreasonable to think that the future role played by EVs will tap into the climate migration of refugees all across the world.
Though the price of EVs are generally quite expensive compared to gas-powered cars. However, it is worth noting that the technology of EVs will continue to develop and be made more available in the future, so the price of EVs are predicted to be cheaper as time passes. In fact, between the years 2025 to 2027, they are predicted to cost as much as a standard gas-powered car.
In the future, we might even be able to see that electric vehicles provide a sustainable mode of transportation for people who need to relocate due to these impacts, while also reducing the carbon footprint of transportation.
Promoting the adoption of electric vehicles can help to reduce our total carbon footprint and mitigate the impacts of climate change, which hopefully would reduce the need for climate migration. Additionally, electric vehicles can provide a sustainable mode of transportation for people who need to relocate due to climate impacts, while also supporting the development of renewable energy infrastructure.
Energy Transition Matters
The rapid popularity of EVs is really not that surprising given the multiple technological breakthroughs in the efficiency of its batteries, and other mechanical aspects. All of these have made EVs more appealing for the general public – but only under the notion that EVs are better for the environment due to their decreased reliance on fossil fuels.
Studies by MIT and the United States Environmental Protection Agency state that electric vehicles are generally better for the environment, but the fact still remains that electric vehicles are only as good as their fuel sources. In Less Economically Developed Countries (LEDCs), it is not always possible to use renewable sources of energy to generate electricity on a large scale, and thus, fossil fuels are used to generate electricity.
This is a pressing issue for nations all over the world, but for Indonesia, one of the main concerns that the government has raised is energy transition, which hasn’t happened.
Indonesia has only started its journey for an entire reformation of the energy system following the agreement to follow climate goals. For example, President Joko Widodo pledged that Indonesia would reach net-zero emissions by 2060, and naturally, large efforts have been made to shift the energy policy away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy. This is where the Indonesia Energy Transition Outlook (IETO) steps in. They have the goal of monitoring developments of energy transition in Indonesia, as well as identifying challenges and opportunities faced for future reference.
The most straightforward truth is that energy transition from fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy is difficult for any country, and the policies made for this purpose require much time for the results to actually show. Even then, the results may not even be satisfactory, and if anything, could bring more harm than good for people. This is what makes the issue of energy transition a difficult and complex one, and hence why the establishment of the IETO is a monumental step in the right direction. Hopefully, Indonesia will remain on that path.
Energy is a resource needed by virtually all citizens in this world, and because of that, it makes it very complicated for governments to make lasting, immense effects for the betterment of energy systems. Even the slightest tweak to it could not only possibly affect numerous people, it may not also be very effective in taking a more sustainable, environmentally friendly approach.
In moments like these, it is key to remember that the seemingly insignificant actions of people today could spiral, snowball, into something that ties issues that at first seem completely unrelated, but are actually heavily intertwined. The only thing that we can do now is to be more conscious of the mark we leave on the Earth, in hopes that others around us might be spurred to do the same.
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