How Electric Vehicles Help Address #ClimateChange – Carbon Brief – Coyote Gulch

Click on the link to read the article about the website Carbon Brief website (Zeke Hausvader):

Electric vehicles (EVs) are an important part of achieving global climate change goals. They play a prominent role in mitigation pathways that limit warming to well below 2 or 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would be in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Although electric vehicles do not directly emit greenhouse gases, they run on electricity that is still produced largely from fossil fuels in many parts of the world. Energy is also used in the production of the vehicle – and especially in the battery.

In response to recent misleading media reports on this topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed overview of the climate impacts of electric vehicles here. In this analysis, Carbon Brief finds:

  • EVs are responsible for significantly lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional vehicles (with a combustion engine) across Europe.
  • In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of electric cars are smaller and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.
  • However, as countries decarbonize electricity generation to meet their climate goals, emissions from cars will fall for existing electric cars and emissions from production will fall for new electric cars.
  • In Britain in 2019, emissions per kilometer driving a Nissan Leaf EV were around three times lower than those of the average conventional car, even before taking into account the declining carbon intensity of electricity generation over the life of the car.
  • Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel consumption estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are adopted and even the weather in the regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere.

There are also major uncertainties surrounding the emissions associated with the production of batteries for electric vehicles, with different studies reporting widely varying figures. As battery prices fall and vehicle manufacturers adopt larger batteries with longer driving ranges, emissions from battery production could have a greater impact on the climate benefits of electric vehicles.

About half of the emissions from battery production come from the electricity used in the production and assembly of the batteries. Producing batteries in regions with relatively low-carbon electricity or in factories powered by renewable energy, as will be the case for the batteries used in the best-selling Tesla Model 3, can significantly reduce battery emissions.

Different studies find different results

A recent working paper by a group of German researchers from the think tank Institute for Economic Research (ifo) shows that “electric vehicles will hardly help reduce CO2 emissions in Germany in the coming years.” It suggests that in Germany “the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are at best slightly higher than those of a diesel engine”.

This study was picked up in the international media, with the Wall Street Journal publishing an editorial entitled: “Germany’s dirty green cars”. It also sparked backlash from electric vehicle advocates, with articles in Jalopnik and Autoblog, as well as individual researchers refuting the claim.

There are also major uncertainties surrounding the emissions associated with the production of batteries for electric vehicles, with different studies reporting widely varying figures. As battery prices fall and vehicle manufacturers adopt larger batteries with longer driving ranges, emissions from battery production could have a greater impact on the climate benefits of electric vehicles.

About half of the emissions from battery production come from the electricity used in the production and assembly of the batteries. Producing batteries in regions with relatively low-carbon electricity or in factories powered by renewable energy, as will be the case for the batteries used in the best-selling Tesla Model 3, can significantly reduce battery emissions.

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