No, charging an electric car doesn't produce more carbon than driving a regular one

·3 min read
electric car charging
The electric car Nissan Leaf, at an electric vehicle charging station at Balboa Park. Dünzl\ullstein bild via Getty Images
  • A study found that in the US electric cars produce 60% to 68% fewer emissions than gas-powered ones.

  • EVs quickly recoup their higher manufacturing emissions and are more sustainable than traditional cars.

  • The study says lawmakers must shift from combustion engines to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

No, electric vehicles do not produce more greenhouse gas emissions throughout their life cycle than a gas-powered car - whether through digging up the metals to create the car's battery, manufacturing the vehicle, or disposing of it.

A new study debunks a common theory that was used to argue against innovators like Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding the sustainability of electric cars. The popular myth falsely claims that an EV's manufacturing processes, plus the energy that is produced to power the cars, makes the vehicles not much cleaner than a car with a combustion engine.

The study, performed by The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and published Wednesday, found that throughout its life cycle an electric car consistently releases fewer greenhouse gases.

Furthermore, EVs release less carbon dioxide than a gas-powered car no matter where it is plugged in - whether its a power grid that receives renewable energy or a grid that relies heavily on more dirty power sources like coal.

During its lifetime, an EV in the US releases about 60% to 68% fewer carbon emissions than a traditional vehicle. Even in China and India - countries that rely heavily on coal-power - electric cars produce between 37% to 45% and 19% to 34% fewer greenhouse gases, respectively.

The researchers estimated emissions from mid-sized EVs that were registered in 2021 in the countries that make up 70% of the new car sales in the world - the US, Europe, India, and China. The report analyzes the life-cycle of vehicles under current political policies (energy initiatives that are likely to shift over time) and assumes vehicles will be on the road for about 18 years.

Read more: 4 top startups chasing the $23 billion battery recycling market -and solving a major problem for electric cars

One of the main points in the argument that EVs do not significantly reduce emissions still holds true - electric cars produce more carbon emissions than gas vehicles during their manufacturing processes. Still, the ICCT shows that EVs quickly recoup this loss, as the cars produce less emissions cumulatively in comparison to a combustion engine within a year of everyday driving.

Furthermore, recycling the electric car batteries could bring manufacturing emissions down in the future, as the batteries are mostly responsible for the higher emissions during manufacturing.

The study's results lend impetus to the drive toward EVs, as well as the decarbonization of power grids, ICCT's managing director of Europe Peter Mock said in a press release.

"Our aim with this study was to capture the elements that policymakers in these major markets need to fairly and critically evaluate different technology pathways for passenger cars," the study's author, ICCT researcher Georg Bieker said. "We know we need transformational change to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and the results show that certain technologies are going to be capable of delivering deep decarbonization and others are clearly not."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting