Even when they are powered exclusively by the “dirtiest” grid-provided electricity in the world, plug-in electric vehicles are responsible for a smaller greenhouse gas footprint than diesel cars are, according to a new lifecycle analysis from VUB University (Brussels) and Transport & Environment (T&E).
So, to say that again, despite talking points to the contrary, plug-in electric vehicle drivers actually are responsible for reduced greenhouse gas emissions as compared to drivers of diesel cars. Yes, even when powered by some of the most carbon-intensive power plants in the world, regardless of modality (coal, nuclear, etc.). electric cars are “greener.”
Obviously, though, carbon footprints for plug-in electric vehicles absolutely are smallest when relying on renewables.
The press release provides more: “Even in countries with the highest GHG intensity of electricity generation — Poland and Germany — the EV performs better on a lifecycle basis (including the emissions in manufacturing the battery and vehicle) than the diesel car. Using the Polish average, an electric vehicle emits 25% less CO2 over its lifetime, while in Sweden an EV emits 85% less. Meanwhile, EVs’ sustainability will improve further with battery technology advances and as more batteries are re-used for electricity storage or recycled.”
The Clean Vehicles and e-Mobility Officer at T&E, Yoann Le Petit, commented: “Today an electric vehicle driving on Polish electricity — the most carbon intensive in the EU — still has a lower impact on the climate than a new diesel car. With the rapid decarbonisation of the EU electricity mix, on average electric vehicles will emit half the CO2 emissions of a diesel car by 2030 including the manufacturing emissions.”
As it stands, the improved carbon footprint of plug-in electric vehicles hasn’t translated to high sales in most of Europe’s countries, but that could change quickly as cost-competitive, long-range electric cars start getting around.
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