The true environmental cost of electric cars

The carbon footprint of these automobiles is far from being nonexistent


Although electric cars do not have tailpipe emissions, meaning they do not directly emit CO2 into the atmosphere, they do leave a carbon footprint when measuring well-to-wheel emissions. During the production process of these automobiles, impacts on global warming can surpass those from a gasoline-powered vehicles. According to Bjorn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, 25.000 lb of CO2 are emitted during the construction of an electric vehicle compared to a discharge of 16.000 lb of CO2 when constructing a conventional machine.

Whenever these automobiles make their way to the streets, their impact on global warming increases. These vehicles require of a generation process of electricity to function properly because of their dependency on the type of power supplied at charging stations. Let’s not forget that to obtain lithium, the material used in the making of car batteries, there needs to be a mining process which can have devastating impacts on human health by incrementing environmental pollution.

Therefore, electric cars being used in countries with an energy supply based on coal will leave a carbon footprint similar to an average vehicle. On the other hand, areas running on renewable energies will mitigate, but not eradicate, their CO2 emissions .

The diagram developed by Shrink That Footprint (1) describes how “carbon emissions of grid powered electric vehicles are even four times greater in countries with coal-dominated power generation than in those with low-carbon electricity”.

Based on the diagram, if the electric grid is fed by renewable energy, the carbon footprint from electric cars should be significantly reduced. Hopefully, this information serves as a reminder that electric vehicles do not mitigate carbon emission, but they must be set out conjointly with a low carbon electric grid to trim CO2 emissions in the transport sector.

LatinAmerican Post | Laura Iguavita
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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