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The new study puts an end to the controversy over the relative cleanliness of electric and ICE vehicles. The authors calculated that over the entire life cycle of an EV - from the extraction of materials used to manufacture the car, to disposal - an electric car emits significantly less CO2 than a gasoline one. And this is true both for Europe, with its large share of renewable energy, and for, for example, India, which still consumes a lot of coal to generate electricity. The increased CO2 emissions from the production of batteries are compensated for in the first year of using the electric vehicle.
It is argued that electric vehicles can only be considered clean as much as the source of electricity that runs the power plant is clean - and so far, fossil fuels dominate in this area in most parts of the world.
“We have a lot of lobbyists in the auto industry who say that electric cars aren't that much better when you factor in the production of electricity and batteries. We decided to look into this issue and see if their arguments are correct, ”said Georg Biker, a researcher with the International Council for Clean Transport (ICCT). Analysis by ICCT experts confirmed that these claims do not hold water.
Researchers estimated the emissions of medium-sized electric vehicles registered in 2021 in India, China, the United States or Europe - countries that account for 70% of new cars.
In Europe, the lifetime CO emissions of EVs were 66% –69% lower than those of gasoline vehicles. In the USA - by 60% –68%. In China, where more coal is produced - by 37% –45%. In India - by 19% –34%.
It is important to emphasize that the authors proceeded from the assumption that an electric vehicle registered in 2021 would last for 18 years, writes Verge.
The study also took into account the announced emission reduction measures for each region, as well as the forecasts of the International Energy Agency (IEA) for the use of renewable energy sources. On the other hand, the authors could not adequately assess some of the environmental impacts of the automotive industry not related to climate.
Indeed, the production of an electric vehicle is still not much, but it surpasses the carbon footprint of a conventional car. Efficient battery recycling technologies could make a difference. But after driving on EVs for about a year, their owners begin to reap the benefits of investments in the environment - then the car on batteries becomes less dirty than on gasoline.
Beeker hopes his report will help lawmakers make more informed decisions about the future of transportation. If national leaders are truly committed to carbon neutrality, then they need to understand that even hybrid cars are not clean enough to achieve this goal. The authors of the report recommend not to release new cars with internal combustion engines on the roads starting from 2030.
“Any car with an internal combustion engine cannot provide the greenhouse gas reductions necessary to coexist with climate change,” Beeker said. “This is true globally, so we need to move away from ICE vehicles globally.”
Based on the results of a survey conducted in 2020, owners of electric vehicles overwhelmingly do not regret their purchase and do not want to switch to a gasoline or diesel car again. Most satisfied car owners are among the owners of VW ID.3, Tesla Model 3 and Kia e-Niro.