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Electric Cars Still Better for the Planet Than Gas Vehicles
  • Robert Preidt
  • Posted March 27, 2020

Electric Cars Still Better for the Planet Than Gas Vehicles

Electric cars really are greener than gasoline ones, researchers report.

Some have questioned whether electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions when the generation of the electricity to run them is taken into account.

But a new study concluded that in most areas of the world, electric cars reduce carbon emissions overall, even if the generation of electricity to power them uses substantial amounts of fossil fuel.

"The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars … over fossil-fuel alternatives," said study lead author Florian Knobloch, from the Environmental Science Department at Radboud University in the Netherlands.

Currently, electric cars are better for the climate than gasoline cars in 95% of countries, according to the study. A few exceptions include places like Poland, where electricity is still mostly generated from burning coal.

Average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than gasoline cars in countries like Sweden and France (which get most of their electricity from renewable sources and nuclear power), and around 30% lower in the United Kingdom, according to the study.

The researchers also noted that in a few years, even inefficient electric cars will be produce fewer emissions overall than most new gasoline cars in most countries, because electricity generation is expected to become less carbon-intensive.

In 2050, every second car on the streets could be electric, which would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons per year, which is equivalent to the total current emissions of Russia, the researchers projected.

"We've seen a lot of discussion about this recently, with lots of disinformation going around. Here is a definitive study that can dispel those myths," Knobloch said in a university news release. "Even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases.

"This insight should be very useful for policymakers," he added.

The study was published March 23 in the journal Nature Sustainability.

More information

The European Environment Agency has more on electric cars.

SOURCE: Radboud University, news release, March 23, 2020
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