One of Biggest Electric Vehicle Myths Shattered in New Study


A new study refutes the well-worn argument that electric vehicles are not much cleaner than internal combustion vehicles. Over the life cycle of an electric vehicle – from digging up the materials needed to build it to putting the car to rest – it will emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gasoline car, revealed the research. This is true globally, whether an EV plugs into a grid in Europe with a larger share of renewables, or a grid in India that still relies heavily on coal.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise. Fossil fuels are the engine of the climate crisis. So the governments from California to the European Union have proposed phasing out internal combustion engines by 2035. But there are still people. who claim that electric vehicles are only as clean as the grids they run on – and today, fossil fuels still dominate the energy mix in most places.

“We have a lot of lobbying from parts of the auto industry saying that electric vehicles are not that much better when you factor in power generation and battery production. We wanted to take a look at that and see if those arguments are true, ”says Georg Bieker, a researcher at the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) research group that published the report. ICCT’s analysis revealed that these arguments do not hold true over time.

The report estimates the emissions of midsize electric vehicles registered in 2021 in India, China, the United States or Europe – countries which account for 70% of new car sales globally and are representative of other markets in the world. around the world, according to ICCT. The lifetime emissions of an electric vehicle in Europe are between 66 and 69% lower than those of an energy-guzzling vehicle, according to the analysis. In the United States, an electric vehicle produces between 60 and 68% less emissions. In China, which uses more coal, an electric vehicle generates between 37 and 45% less emissions. In India, it is between 19 and 34 percent lower.

Importantly, the study assumes the vehicle was registered in 2021 and will be on the road for around 18 years. The study authors came up with a range of potential emission reductions for each region by examining the energy mix under existing policy, as well as the International Energy Agency’s projections on what to do. will look like the future electricity mix as climate policies develop. But it’s hard to predict how much of the world’s energy infrastructure will actually change. For example, in the United States, President Joe Biden has set a goal of achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035, but he has yet to adopt the policies to achieve it. The study also does not take into account other elements unrelated to the climate. the environmental effects that building the cars might have due to things like mining and garbage.

In fact, building an EV is still a bit more carbon intensive than building a traditional vehicle. Recycling electric vehicle batteries could potentially reduce this carbon intensity. But for now, EV drivers are starting to reap the climate benefits after driving their cars for about a year, according to Bieker. This is when the car breaks the threshold when the emissions it saves by running on cleaner electricity make it a better climate option than a traditional car.

Bieker hopes the ICCT findings will help policymakers make more informed decisions about the future of transport. Climate experts are rushing to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to near zero by mid-century to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Electric vehicles are needed to achieve these reductions, and even hybrid electric vehicles are not clean enough to achieve this goal. The report recommends that new internal combustion vehicles not be allowed on the road by the 2030s.

“Combustion engine vehicles of any type cannot reduce the greenhouse gases we need to live with climate change,” Bieker said. “This is a global discovery, so we need to phase out combustion engine cars globally. “

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