A think tank claims Rowan Atkinson’s criticism of EVs is disrupting the phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK
The UK-based environmental charity Green Alliance has accused actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson of being a high-profile obstacle to the government’s efforts to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2035.
Addressing the House of Lords on Tuesday, a group representative claimed that a comment piece written by Atkinson in the Guardian newspaper in June 2023 was “one of the most damaging articles” for the net zero cause and the public’s adoption of EVs.
In his op-ed, Atkinson, who described himself as a “car person” and an “early adopter” of EVs, stated that while he had enjoyed owning a hybrid and a fully electric car, even though they were “a bit soulless,” he has increasingly felt “duped” regarding claims that EVs are an “environmental panacea.”
The actor criticized the use of lithium-ion batteries in EVs, citing research suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions during the production of electric cars were 70% higher than when producing gasoline ones. The main culprit, Atkinson pointed out, were the “absurdly heavy” batteries, which are estimated to last only up to 10 years. “It seems a perverse choice of hardware with which to lead the automobile’s fight against the climate crisis,” he wrote.
Atkinson suggested the need for electric vehicles as a solution to the climate crisis could be negated by encouraging drivers to stop buying new cars every three years and to keep their vehicles for longer. Another solution, proposed by the actor, was exploring ways to increase the use of cleaner synthetic fuels.
“I’m feeling that our honeymoon with electric cars is coming to an end, and that’s no bad thing,” the actor concluded.
In its letter to the House of Lords environment and climate change committee, the Green Alliance pressure group insisted that Atkinson’s views were misleading and suggested that his concerns regarding EVs had been “roundly debunked.”
“Unfortunately, fact checks never reach the same breadth of audience as the original false claim, emphasizing the need to ensure high editorial standards around the net zero transition,” the group said.
Other issues hindering the country’s phase-out of combustion-engine vehicles included insufficient charging infrastructure, high prices on new EVs compared to their petrol and diesel alternatives, and a “lack of clear, long-term messaging from government.”