Ah, the poor electric car. It has been a long road for you, hasn’t it? Clunky batteries that take a full day to charge and need frequent, costly replacement. Prices so dear that only the super-rich could even look at you. Tiny driving range. In one movie I saw back in 2006, Martin Sheen said somebody even tried to kill you. But you certainly seem to be in good shape these days, more affordable and reliable, and taking off all over the world! As per usual, Icelanders are fashionably late to the party, but they are here now and ready to get moving.
I love it when a good idea takes hold of humanity and refuses to let go. Electric cars are one such idea. Consider, for a moment, choices an individual can make to combat climate change. The most effective are probably eating locally produced food, cutting back on meat and animal products, buying used stuff, and reducing the carbon footprint from transportation. (As a side note, if you are one of those people who don’t “believe” in climate change, I am sorry and I hope you read more).
The move away from fossil fuels is coming, and it will take off exponentially over the next few decades. How do I know? Peak oil. Imagine that you are sitting in a pub with a beer in your hands. You sip away at it, and you like it. It feels good, and you smile because you are so pleased that you have this beer. Then you realize that it is half gone. The pub doesn’t have any more beer. Neither do any of the other pubs in town. Neither do any pubs anywhere in the world. This wonderful thing you discovered is half gone, and no more exists on the planet. It is the same way with finite resources like oil, and we have already taken the half that’s easy to extract.
Plug into Iceland
By all logic, Iceland should be leading the world in electric car use. The energy in Iceland is produced almost exclusively through renewable sources, with about 70% coming from hydropower, and 30% from geothermal. Aluminum smelters and other have industries have caught on to the economic benefits of the cheap, clean energy they find here. So have those people who thought it would be a brilliant idea to build a giant cable across the ocean and export Iceland’s energy to the UK. Icelanders themselves are sometimes blind to the benefits they can get from cheap energy. We crank up the heat and leave the windows open and don’t think about how weird and cool that is. It is high time Iceland invests in an energy project that will actually benefit the people who live here and not just big foreign companies who export their profits without paying fair taxes (I’m looking at you, Rio Tinto Alcan!).
The gauntlet is thrown
Like a lot of small countries, nothing moves Icelanders to action like the prospect of being the Best in the World. Moreover, nothing lights a fire under the Icelandic populace like sitting at he grown-ups’ table with another Nordic country and coming out on top. Well, Norway has a plan to stop selling fossil fuel cars by 2025. So far, our boring, oil-producing, ski-everywhere, weird-sweater-wearing, cautious, EU-resisting big brother is kicking our ass in the electric car market.
Dear ruling political elite
We know about your love affair with big business. Electric cars could actually be the biggest business opportunity you see in your lifetime. The change is inevitable, and you want to be on the right side of this one. People with more power and influence than me need to muster the political courage to prioritize infrastructure and incentives. We need a network of charging stations all over the country, and incentives to switch to electric transportation. Reykjavik has a plan to add 80 charging stations over the next few years. Let’s plug in and get rolling.