Electric Vehicle lifecycle study once again proves lower emissions, debunking “clean petrol” myth

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Critics of the electric car movement have long used the argument that an EV’s manufacturing process cancels out its positive environmental impact. However, a new study from multiple European universities titled “Net emission reductions from electric cars and heat pumps in 59 world regions over time,” shows that electric vehicles are more emissions-friendly than their petrol-based counterparts. 

“We show that already under current carbon intensities of electricity generation, electric cars and heat pumps are less emission-intensive than fossil-fuel-based alternatives in 53 world regions, representing 95% of the global transport and heating demand,” the report’s abstract states.

Researchers at Cambridge, Exeter, and Dutch college Nijmegen University performed the study, which concluded that the myths surrounding electric vehicles and their possibly unfavorable impact on the environment only occurs in 1/20th of the world. Poland is the most notable country where this happens is, the BBC initially reported.

Researchers based their conclusions on the fact that “lifetime” emissions, meaning the amount of pollution a vehicle contributes toward the environment over the entire duration that the car is operable,w are up to 70% lower than petrol vehicles in countries where electricity comes from renewables and nuclear. France and Sweden are just two countries that fit this description.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom offers around 30% less pollution for electric cars.

The lead author for the study, Dr. Florian Knobloch, states, “The idea that electric vehicles could increase emissions is a complete myth.”

The study indicates that as countries begin to maneuver toward more sustainable forms of energy, these figures will rise. With many countries around the world implementing petrol-bans that will take effect between 2030 and 2040, these numbers will grow as solar, wind, and other forms of clean energy are being used on a more broad scale.

Researchers also predicted in their report that at least 50% of the world’s vehicles could be electric by 2050. If this were the case, 1.5 gigatonnes of CO2 could be eliminated from the Earth’s atmosphere, a figure that is currently equivalent to the current emissions rate of Russia.

“We’ve seen a lot of discussion about this [topic] recently, with lots of disinformation going around,” Knobloch added.

Critics of the EV movement often point to battery production as being the most polluting part of a battery electric vehicle’s lifespan. This myth was dispelled in December 2019, when the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, one of the firms responsible for the original anti-EV claim, completed a new study that showed a significant decline in CO2 emissions during lithium-ion battery production.

The explanation for this decrease in emissions is due to larger-scale battery production as EVs become more popular, and their power source is in higher demand.

The only remaining issue is getting countries all around the world to adapt to the electric vehicle movement. While the UK has implemented a 2050 climate goal of bringing greenhouse gases to net-zero, it ultimately falls on a consumer’s need for a new car, and whether they will choose to buy electric. With price parity with gas vehicles expected to be reached by 2023, cost will no longer be an issue.


Electric Vehicle lifecycle study once again proves lower emissions, debunking “clean petrol” myth
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