The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth


Long article

Elon Musk’s electric planet-suicide vehicle: Automobiles, emissions and degrowth

Richard Smith

The Ecological Citizen Vol 3 Suppl B 2020: 47–53

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First published: 21 February 2020  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


The climate crisis demands immediate and massive cuts in our emissions of greenhouse gases. In turn, this requires a transformation of the global economy – a transformation that would be unprecedented in scale, scope and speed. Such a shift to an ecologically sustainable economy cannot occur under capitalism. As a case study, this article looks at what would be required to meaningfully reduce emissions from road transport. Promoters of 'green capitalism' have claimed that the solution is electric cars powered by renewable energy. However, most of the emissions of an automobile are produced during its manufacture, and the profits of automobile companies are built around planned obsolescence and short lifecycles. The actual solution to minimizing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector – as for the economy as a whole – is a system that is designed on the basis of rational social need rather than corporate profit.



Ecological economics, Eco-socialism, Limits, Societal change, Sustainability