Research by Transport & Environment assessed road CO2 as well as impact of electricity, battery production and power plant construction
Electric vehicles (EVs) emit three times less carbon dioxide on average than petrol and diesel cars once the impact of driving, electricity generation, the extraction of raw materials to make batteries, and the construction of power plants are taken into account, a new study today estimates.
Green NGO Transport & Environment (T&E) said it took into account "all possible criteria" to make the comparison, including the amount of CO2 emitted when electricity is produced or fuel is burnt, as well as the impacts of building batteries and power plants.
Critics of EVs have argued that when their full carbon footprint is taken into account they deliver negligible emissions savings compared to conventional cars. But T&E's study joins a growing library of studies showing this is simply not the case with EVs still emerging as the much greener option even when the full carbon footprint is considered.
In the best case scenario assessed in the study, an electric car with a battery produced in Sweden and driven in the same country can emit as much as 80 per cent less CO2 than a diesel equivalent, and 81 per cent less than a petrol model, it claims.
And even in the worst case scenario with a battery produced in China for an EV driven in Poland, the electric model still emits 22 per cent less CO2 than a diesel equivalent and 28 per cent less than a petrol car, according to the research.
Moreover, T&E said the carbon impact of EVs was only set to improve in the coming years as clean power capacity from renewables and flexible grid technology increases. It estimated CO2 from EVs in Europe is set to fall four-fold on average by 2030 thanks to a greener electricity grid.
The findings are set out in a new online tool developed by T&E enabling users to compare the carbon impact of EVs developed and driven in different EU countries compared to petrol and diesel equivalents.
Lucien Mathieu, mobility analyst at T&E, said the tool "puts to rest the myth that driving an electric car in Europe can be worse for the climate than an equivalent diesel or petrol".
"It's simply not true," he said. "The most up-to-date data shows that electric cars in the EU emit almost three times less CO2 on average. Electric cars will reduce CO2 emissions four-fold by 2030 thanks to an EU grid relying more and more on renewables. If European governments are serious about decarbonising during the crisis recovery, they must speed up the transition to electric vehicles."
The findings add to mounting evidence demonstrating the far higher carbon impact of fossil fuel cars in comparison to battery-powered vehicles, even when taking into account the full lifespan and emissions resulting from the power batteries use.
Last month a study by researchers from the Universities of Exeter, Cambridge, and Nijmegen found EVs and household heat pumps both generated lower greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fossil fuel counterparts in most parts of the world. Previous research by the likes of BloombergNEF, Transport & Environment, and Draxhave also reached broadly similar conclusions.
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