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Electric cars better for climate in 95% of the world

last modified Mar 26, 2020 01:55 PM

Fears that electric cars could actually increase carbon emissions are unfounded in almost all parts of the world, new research shows.

 

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. Under current conditions, driving an electric car is better for the climate than conventional petrol cars in 95% of the world, the study finds.

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.

 

Understanding the effect of low-carbon innovations on relevant sectors of the economy, such as heating and transport, is crucial for the development of effective policy

Pablo Salas 

 Click here for the full University of Cambridge article.

Click here for the Nature Sustainability publication - "Net emission reductions from electric cars and heat pumps in 59 world regions over time." Nature Sustainability (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41893-020-0488-7.

Image credit: Andrew Roberts via Unsplash