How Electric Vehicles Are Better For Cities

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There’s a peculiar bit of anti-EV misinformation floating online made by some commenters that electric vehicles are no better for the environment because they use electricity made from fossil fuels. Most of the electric vehicles in the US are located in California, where the energy mix includes solar power, wind power, hydroelectric, and geothermal. These forms of electricity are all clean and renewable.

Tesla Model 3
Image credit: Kyle Field | Cleantechnica

Natural gas is used to generate electricity too, but California is headed toward 100% clean energy. The goal there is to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2045. If it is achieved, then electric vehicles in California will be running on clean electricity and producing zero emissions.

Imagine for a moment visiting Los Angeles and experiencing no air pollution from any vehicles. An air-pollution free Los Angeles might sound like a fantasy, but it could become a reality in just 25 years.

What is air pollution like in Los Angeles now with a huge number of gas-powered vehicles operating on freeways, highways, and streets? It’s very unhealthy. “Those living in areas with higher outdoor pollution, according to the study — which encompassed six major metropolitan areas including New York and Los Angeles — built up coronary-artery calcium at an accelerated rate of 20 percent. Such calcium buildup, a marker for coronary atherosclerosis, can lead to higher risk of heart attack and stroke.”

Heart attacks and strokes…it’s funny how the anti-EV folks don’t mention gas-powered vehicles are generating air pollution every day that damages our health.

The deleterious effects of air pollution don’t stop at heart attack and stroke risk though. There are many more. “About 141 million Americans live with unhealthful levels of air pollution, the report says, placing them at risk for premature death, lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage and developmental and reproductive harm.”

Even for the electric vehicles in states outside of California, some are running on clean electricity like in Oregon and the state of Washington where most electricity comes from hydropower and other renewables.

For cities and towns in the states that use a lot of coal like Wyoming, Montana, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, there aren’t very many electric vehicles. The EVs that are being operated there are running mostly on electricity produced by fossil fuels, but they have zero direct emissions, which means the aren’t generating air pollution in towns and cities where people are. The air pollution they are linked to is generated outside the towns and cities, so they are better for urban centers.

Furthermore, not all the world’s EVs are in the US. Norway is one of the strongest EV adopters, and this country generates about 44% of its electricity from hydropower. Iceland generates 100% of its electricity from renewable sources and has been experiencing an EV surge. Eventually, this country’s vehicles might all be electric.

At times, Denmark and Portugal have generated 100% clean electricity as well. The world is trending toward more clean, renewable electricity, which is good news for the environment and human health.

In France, reportedly the goal is to have 7 million EV charging stations by 2025. This is great news because in Paris, air pollution is so severe that a research study compared breathing the air there to smoking cigarettes. For people who live in Paris year round, the study found that breathing the local air pollution is like smoking 183 cigarettes annually.

Replacing gas-powered vehicles in Paris with electric ones would greatly reduce the amount of toxic air pollution in this city. Electric vehicles are a solution, not a problem. But Paris is not even the most polluted city in the world. Delhi, India has even worse air pollution, “By one estimate, breathing Delhi’s air for one day has the health impacts of smoking at least 25 cigarettes.”

In fact, seven million premature deaths a year have been linked to air pollution.

Electric vehicles are an important part of solving this lethal problem — they don’t produce toxic emissions directly. If it was possible to replace the most polluting gas-powered vehicles with zero-emissions vehicles, the air in the most polluted cities would be immediately improved.

So, if anyone tells you that electric vehicles are no better for the environment, tell them they’re not only better for the environment, they’re better for human health too.

Because of the urgency of climate change and its very negative impacts, the future belongs to clean, renewable electricity generation and electric vehicles.

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Jake Richardson

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Twitter:

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