COP26- it’s time to recognise the environmental impact of outdoor power tools

Power tools used in grounds care and garden maintenance can play a role in reducing carbon emissions and contribute to improving air quality in the places we seek it most – playgrounds, parks, and other green spaces. As the UK gears up to host COP26, Emma Gayler, Ambassador for the Challenge 2025 campaign, calls for these tools to become part of the conversation at this vital climate change conference.

Climate catastrophe poses a substantial and significant threat to all nations. This was recognised in the historic Paris Agreement, which commits nations to keep global temperature rises to below 2 degrees Celsius, and preferably to 1.5 degrees, compared to pre-industrial levels.

Many countries have set ambitious targets to reduce emissions and are looking to renewable energy generation and switching to electric vehicles in order to meet them. Nowhere in this strategy, however, is there any recognition of the impact petrol-powered outdoor power equipment (OPE) is having on the environment. OPE is not regulated to the same extent cars are and whilst we have important documentation such as the green procurement policy (GPP), this is currently advisory and the switch to battery power is making slow progress. 

With the UK hosting this year’s COP26 climate change conference, there has never been a better time for world leaders to look at other ways to reduce emissions and ensure that we do not breach this temperature limit.

One of the key goals set out by COP26 is to adapt in order to protect communities and natural habitats — which is ironic when we consider that many of the tools that are built to keep our parks, gardens, and natural spaces clean, tidy, and beautiful are actually emitting dangerous emissions that are causing serious damage to those that use these green spaces.

Challenge 2025 was created because we believe that power tools have a huge role to play – and that they should be part of the conversation at the climate change conference alongside important goals such as deforestation and encouraging investment in renewables. 

While the EU has imposed strict emissions standards on diesel and petrol engines for vehicles and plant equipment, emissions from the smaller petrol engines on outdoor power tools are not regulated to the same extent. These include engines on tools used for grounds care, landscaping, and gardening, such as mowers, leaf blowers, brush cutters, chainsaws and hedge trimmers. 

Through Challenge 2025 our vision is that battery technology becomes the principal power source for outdoor equipment, leading to significant reductions in emissions and noise, while increasing safety and user comfort.

Challenge 2025 recently commissioned emissions tests² on petrol-powered tools at the renowned Millbrook Proving Grounds and the results were startling. Our findings included:

  • Inefficiency – A leaf blower requires 50% of the petrol required to power a Ford Fiesta car
  • Air pollution – A brush cutter emits four times as much nitrogen oxide (NOx) as a Ford Fiesta
  • Greenhouse gas – A leaf blower emits 11 times as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as a Ford Fiesta

This evidence proves that switching to all-electric tools such as the EGO Power+ range would enable us to significantly improve air quality in urban environments, reduce costs, minimise noise pollution, and cut carbon emissions. This would help to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals³ on climate change, sustainable cities and communities, and good health and wellbeing.

Quantitative research also revealed that operators are ready to adopt electric power tools:

  • 72 per cent of trade users find battery-powered tools appealing
  • 74 per cent of respondents believe that battery power is more user-friendly and provides better value for money than petrol

Local government has the opportunity to take the lead in the electrification of these tools. Our studies found that 89 per cent of the outdoor power tools used by local authorities in the UK are petrol-powered, burning an estimated 600,000 litres of fuel every year.

How you can help

Demand better. Governments, tool owners and operators can all help make a difference by challenging the status quo and looking at the alternatives to petrol power – they’ve come a lot further than many still believe. Working together, we can make battery power the principal power source for cordless outdoor power equipment by 2025. We believe that it makes no sense for tools that are designed to improve our green spaces to be polluting the air and damaging the very environment they are trying to enhance.

EGO was founded with the simple vision of using advanced battery technology to eliminate the harmful emissions, noise pollution and health issues associated with petrol-powered equipment whilst maintaining the performance users expect and need. Challenge 2025 is our call to arms to educate and empower both domestic and professional outdoor power equipment users to see battery power as the only logical choice when purchasing new cordless gardening equipment.

We are creating tools to help owners to make the switch, and for authorities to understand the associated savings. The first step in cutting carbon emissions is to understand how our garden tools are affecting our planet, which can be done by filling out a carbon calculator.

EGO and Challenge 2025 have created a simple carbon footprint calculator which can quickly show users how much CO2 their everyday outdoor tools are emitting. Simply enter the tools used most often and we’ll do the rest before offering suggestions on how to reduce your carbon footprint. You can find the calculator here: https://www.challenge2025.eu/calculator/.

The time has come to take up the challenge and insist on change; together we can create a cleaner, quieter, safer future for us all. Let’s leave petrol where it belongs – in the past. We urge readers to speak to their local council, chat to your children’s schools, talk to your neighbours and local businesses – if we want to make real changes to the tools that are being used in our green spaces and the emissions they cause, we must all come together to challenge it.

Emma Gayler, Ambassador for Challenge 2025

Sources

  1. https://unfccc.int/news/climate-commitments-not-on-track-to-meet-paris-agreement-goals-as-ndc-synthesis-report-is-published  
  2. https://www.challenge2025.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/The-Report-a-study-for-Challenge-2025-by-EGO.pdf 
  3. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/ 

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