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Air Quality NRDC, WWF, China, China Coal Cap Project, coal, air pollution, renewables, climate change, smog

Published on November 2nd, 2015 | by Guest Contributor


EVs Can Save China (And The US) From Its Air Pollution Problem

November 2nd, 2015 by  

By Joseph Nagle

Electric vehicles are off to the races.

NRDC, WWF, China, China Coal Cap Project, coal, air pollution, renewables, climate change, smogSparked by eco-concern, the high maintenance cost of internal combustion vehicles, and the ever-dwindling oil supply, EVs have found a definite lasting foothold in the personal vehicle market. While eco-friendly vehicles have a lot of promise for the entire world, no place will benefit more from their rapid growth than China.

China, already the most-populated nation on Earth, combined with rapid industrialization and a fast-growing economy, has the expanding middle-class hungry for more modern luxuries. China is now the world leader in car production and thanks to a vehicle-hungry marketplace 1 billion strong, with traffic jams that can take up 50 lanes and last for days, the problem is already here and, just like their economy, growing rapidly.

Smog and dust particulates are a daily occurrence in Beijing, at times getting so thick it forms a noxious fog throughout the city, and breathing that level of polluted air is equivalent to smoking 40 cigarettes per day. Now imagine sitting in a car, surrounded by other cars, with the AC sucking in all that pollution and blowing it directly into your face. It’s no wonder Teslas need a bio-weapon defense mode, as all that pollution certainly warrants it.

EVs, however, offer hope to a country that is literally drowning in its own fumes. 200 million vehicles are projected to be on the road in China by 2020 and the market is only going to continue to increase. Replacing all those internal combustion engines won’t be easy, but with the market still ramping up it has to be done.

China happens to be a world leader when it comes to investing in sustainable energy. By dumping billions of dollars into solar, wind, hydro, and nuclear power over the past several years, China is quickly trying to fix factory-born air pollution. With electrical production being generated from sustainable net-zero sources, EVs take China’s air pollution down even further. With a high number of EVs on the roads, air pollution could easily become a thing of the past.

Even replacing one third of those vehicles with EVs, air pollution begins to take a big hit, which is also good news for the west. China’s air pollution problem isn’t just China’s problem. Although they suffer the most from it, trade winds can carry that pollution directly into the US. It’s estimated that nearly one-third of San Francisco’s air pollution comes from mainland China and if the trend continues the US will surely be drowning in fumes too.

Electric vehicles take pollution out of the equation for both China and the US. According to the EPA, motor vehicles collectively cause 75 percent of carbon monoxide pollution in the U.S, while the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) estimates that on-road vehicles cause one-third of the air pollution that produces smog in the U.S. Add all that with the rapid growth of motor vehicles in China, and we see a very smog-filled future for the entire world. Getting EVs to stay has already happened, now it’s time we start to make a real difference with them.

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  • Ivor O’Connor

    You’d think China would give tax credits for Tesla if it would help with their smog. Especially since this smog alert:

  • Folks who think EVs are going to make a big dent in air pollution are well intentioned, of course, but the fact is that about 95% of all transportation uses liquid fuels, which isn’t going to change anytime in the next several decades. The problem isn’t “internal combustion engines,” it’s the filthy fuels people burn because there’s no real clean fuel choice in the marketplace. (That would be a cleaner, stronger ALCOHOL fuel, produced from what’s in the average trash can.)

    • Bob_Wallace

      What a strange claim. We’re in the process of switching to battery powered cars and buses at the moment. From here on the rate of change should continue to accelerate due to rapidly falling battery prices and the construction of long distance charging stations.

  • Wayne Williamson

    just wondering where the 50 lanes came from…to funny….there is no highway that has 25 lanes in each direction…

  • sjc_1

    An EV charged from coal fired power plants is still cleaner than a gasoline car.

  • JamesWimberley

    A shout-out to Chinese railways, with over 17,000 kilometres of high-speed track (link). This helps keep the lid on domestic air and car travel.

    The post is very thin on China’s vigorous pro-ev policy: what the sticks and carrots are, and how it’s all working out. China is far ahead of the rest of the world on electric buses.

    • Frank

      BYD even built a factory to make some of those buses in California.

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