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Letter: Beating climate change means tough choices on solar and EVs – Financial Times

Martin Sandbu is an optimist. He thinks that daily life will pretty much stay the same in our ongoing battle against global warming (Opinion, April 26). I like optimism, but I see tough choices ahead.

First, from where do we want to generate our solar energy — solar farms or rooftop solar? It makes a difference in what we pay for our electricity. Solar farms can cost up to $38 per MWh to build and operate; rooftop solar can cost six times as much. If we expect residential homeowners to install solar panels on their roofs, then we need to do a better job at explaining why global warming is an existential threat to our lifestyle.

We also have to decide how much land we are willing to set aside in order to build solar farms. Solar farms cannot do the heavy lifting we expect from them, to say nothing about their effect on biodiversity and our ecosystem.

Second, do we want to rely on mass transit or electric vehicles for our transportation needs? With mass transportation, we can better revitalise our cities. Here in Queens, New York we have Jamaica Boulevard, which runs parallel to York College in an underserved neighbourhood. To walk to York College from the subway stop, you have to go a quarter of a mile along a narrow, cracked pavement strewn with litter that has cars and trucks whizzing beside it.

Imagine now if we got rid of the cars, widened the pavement, planted trees and put in bike paths and dedicated bus lanes. Across the street, we opened up restaurants, grocery stores and neighbourhood shopping. The nearby subway could give us access to high-speed rail destinations around the country.

Without electric vehicles, our cities will be safer, cleaner and have that hustle and bustle we all want to see. It should be a no-brainer.

Walter Weis
Forest Hills, NY, US

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