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Good morning curious.pals,

Curious.HQ has gone off the rails this week... we really are going places... it's exhausting! Okay so our puns might be driving you mad but this week it's all about transport. 

We take a closer look at Borris' plans for HS2.
We have a quiet chuckle at RyanAir's latest advert.
We find out what's 'Super' about Game of Thrones legend, Arya Stark. 

Reading time this week is 3:37 minutes.
Climate Change

Electric Vehicles hit centre stage with $20m+ investment at SuperBowl

by Joe Stratton

What's Going On Here?

With Audi, Ford, Porsche and Hummer all flashing their new Electric Vehicle (EV) ranges during the SuperBowl primetime slot recently, it seems EVs are finally being taken seriously. But is Arya Stark driving an electric Audi enough to save the planet?

What does this mean?

99.9 million people tuned into the SuperBowl this year and around half of the car adverts were for EVs!  The estimated $20m budget drop on the four adverts is certainly a sign that the auto industry is waking up to the issue of climate heating and building sustainability into their long term brand marketing strategies! 

“Let’s drive to a more sustainable future.”
Audi Slogan

 Audi nodded to the fact the EV is only “more sustainable”, but we still fear the ads make consumption desirable and gives drivers the licence to drive around willy nilly without an eco-conscious. 

The GMC Hummer EV claims to be “zero emissions”, and despite this being near true on the road (beyond tyre wear), it isn’t the case in its entirety. Charge this monster up during the day in the US, and you are likely to be charging it from COAL (30%), Natural Gas (34%) and Nuclear (20%).

In addition, there are embodied emissions from the manufacture of new vehicles. These typically range from 10-30% of the total lifetime emissions of a vehicle. The new-new-new,  sell-sell-sell capitalist approach will, sadly never be sustainable. 

Why should we care?

Changes to our buying habits and our behaviour need to change, and as scary as it sounds advertising is one of the biggest influencers in our lives. It's the biggest and the ugliest brands that tend to have the largest budgets for marketing and the greatest potential impact.

Hopefully, this change in strategy develops further and rather than these big companies pushing products, they evolve to sell services, facilitating EV “usership” or sharing rather than selling personal ownership.  After all, at any one time 96% of UK vehicles are parked doing nada! 

Be Curious!

- There are private electric car-sharing systems in place around the country - check out E-car club and see if they have a service near you.!

- Rental companies like ZipCar are becoming easier and easier to use while the Curva can get you ensured on a mates car from as little as £8ph. 

If you are going to drive:

- Drive efficiently. Driving at 55mpg versus 75mph could save you as much as 20% on your fuel and footprint bill!  Drive in the highest gear possible (within the speed limit), don't over-rev & pump them tires!

- If you have an electric vehicle, think about charging times. The UK has an app called GridCarbon that tells you what the UK grid is using at any one time. Some new EVs have smart charging so will do this for you! 
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HS2: Should it be derailed? 

by Helen Steiger

What's Going On Here?

Boris Johnson has called a meeting this week to decide whether the ongoing and controversial ‘HS2’ high speed rail project connecting London to Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds should go ahead or be scrapped. There is some serious opposition, but what’s it all about?

What Does This Mean?

The first phase was on track (sorry…) to operate by 2026 but it is now looking like we won’t see any HS2 trains until 2028-2031. The project is set to cost £106 billion, yet opposition isn’t just based on the substantial financials! 

One of the first pros of the project claimed it would have a positive environmental impact  by enabling electric trains and lessening demand for air and road travel, yet opposers to the project have raised serious concerns over the validity of this claim.

So what are the environmental costs? 

Some argue HS2 could actually increase emissions because more people might drive to the parkway stations and better city to city connections could increase international flights. 

Even over its lifetime, the construction and operation of HS2 is estimated to emit the up to 1.49m tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 1.18% of Britain’s annual transport emissions! This might sound insignificant  but it's definitely a step in the wrong direction. 

Plus, it’s not just people that have been relocated. The Wildlife Trust estimates that more than 350 wildlife sites like nature reserves, ancient woodlands (which make up just 2% of the UK), Sites of Special Scientific Interest and wetlands would be threatened. This puts rare species at risk, such as the small blue butterfly and the long-eared owl, not to mention the estimated 20,000 mammals, reptiles and amphibians that could be killed on the line every year during HS2 operation.

Why Should We Care?

Trains are better than road and air travel though, right? 

Yes! Especially sleeper trains that replace short-haul flights (check out last week’s article!). But…whilst HS2 calculated that their carbon emissions would be offset by increasing the capacity of trains and encouraging people to travel on HS2 instead of driving or flying –  it's worth noting that only 1-4% of passengers are estimated to be those that would have flown or driven.

Emissions from the construction phase could be reduced by 30% with the use of low-carbon construction equipment,but total emissions will only decrease if wider policies are both introduced to support the decarbonisation of electricity and to reduce car and air travel.  

Be Curious!
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Other news we found curious...

Ryanair accused of greenwash over carbon emissions claim - The Guardian
EU urged to adopt meat tax to tackle climate emergency
- The Guardian
Sheep Inc.: the world's first carbon-negative fashion brand - Evening Standard
Pollutionwatch: where would we be without EU environmental laws? - The Guardian
Climate Models Are Running Red Hot, and Scientists Don’t Know Why - Bloomberg Green
Helen Steiger
Joe Stratton

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