Declaration of Co-Dependence

Truckmaker members of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) have pledged to phase out traditional combustion engines as they renew commitments to hydrogen, battery technology and clean fuels.

A joint declaration signed by 16 major car, van, truck and bus manufacturers of the Brussels-based group, where the European Union is not coincidentally also based, includes DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Ford Trucks, IVECO, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania and Volvo Group.

Alliance members, under the non-binding agreement, agree to cease manufacturing commercial vehicles that rely on diesel in readiness for carbon-neutrality by 2040. A decade earlier than originally planned.

The group is also calling for a higher carbon tax in the EU, to disincentivise investments into fossil fuel technology.

The goal is possible — cue the caveat — providing the right charging/refuelling infrastructure is built.

Here’s a hint, they don’t intend to pay for it. In the UK the climate goals of converting all vehicles to electricity by 2050, would require two times the total annual world cobalt production.

The Manhattan Institute contends that this would equate to nearly the entire world production of neodymium, three quarters of the world’s lithium production and at least half of the world’s copper production. Those volumes are based on figures reported on in 2018. But you get the picture.

While no one country currently has market dominance in copper, China at present produces nearly half of the world’s lithium and over 85 per cent of the global supply of cobalt, the element most critical in the batteries that will power the en masse production of electric commercial vehicles.

In the commodities market, China is responsible for mining 70 per cent of the rare earths on the planet. This includes neodymium. Without it an electric motor is rendered useless.

China also excels in man-made carbon emissions. It’s the world’s biggest polluter (it’s not even close) and will be allowed under its Paris Agreement arrangement to continue increasing its emissions until 2040, at the same time the cabal of European Union member companies are going to wean themselves off fossil-fuel powered models, apparently for good.

But for whose good?

A massive upscaling of capabilities to manufacture battery and fuel cell electric trucks in less than two decades will need to occur if the lofty neon ambitions of the ACEA are to be achieved.

No one at the German-funded Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research at the minute seems to have come up with a solution to suppress the carbon dioxide emissions generated for the electricity production caused by renewables in addition to those required to replace fossil fuels to generate power for the grid.

Until 2020 Australia’s foreign policy interactions with China were not dissimilar to many other western countries and rested, to quote Victor Davis Hanson, “on a rare alignment of both progressive and commercial self-interests.”

In this continuum, as freight companies are savaged by tariffs on barley and wine, while the coal and logging industries are held to ransom on their exports, it is difficult to ascertain how these interests coincide with those of the Australian taxpayer.

The world’s second biggest economy is still considered a developing nation by the United Nations.

It will be interesting to watch how established commercial enterprises such as the European arms of global OEMS, at the behest of the EU, further interfold with China, whose rise in technology and manufacturing was necessary to its systematic patent and copyright infringements.

A truism of manufacturing since it was mastered at scale after the second industrial revolution is that it aims to achieve a standardisation to maximise the volume of units produced for tasks assigned it by market demand.

Many of us are trying to find the demand, in this situation, other than the one activists have been making upon a soapbox of science, which has increasingly been hijacked as a tool of ideology all while ignoring the raw material costs of going green.

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