Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are unfounded in almost all parts of the world, new research shows.
Electric cars better for climate in 95% of the world
Reports have questioned whether electric cars really are ‘greener’ once emissions from production and generating their electricity are taken into account.
But a new study by the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen and Cambridge has concluded that electric cars lead to lower carbon emissions overall, even if electricity generation still relies on fossil fuels. The results are reported in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Under current conditions, driving an electric car is better for the climate than conventional petrol cars in 95% of the world, the study finds.
The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal.
Average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France (which get most of their electricity from renewables and nuclear), and around 30% lower in the UK.
In a few years, even inefficient electric cars will be less emission-intensive than most new petrol cars in most countries, as electricity generation is expected to be less carbon-intensive than today.
The study projects that by 2050, every other car on the streets could be electric. This would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons per year, which is equivalent to the total current CO2 emissions of Russia.
The study also looked at electric household heat pumps, and found they too produce lower emissions than fossil-fuel alternatives in 95% of the world.
Heat pumps could reduce global CO2 emissions in 2050 by up to 0.8 gigatons per year – roughly equal to Germany’s current annual emissions.
Image: Electric car charging in Birmingham City Centre
Credit: Andrew Roberts via Unsplash
Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is acknowledged as one of the world's leading higher education and research institutions. The University was instrumental in the formation of the Cambridge Network and its Vice- Chancellor, Professor Stephen Toope, is also the President of the Cambridge Network.