The CO2 emissions generated over the lifetime of an electric vehicle (EV) can be up to 70% lower than a petrol vehicle, researchers at the University of Exeter and Cambridge have found.
The researchers examined the current and future emissions of different types of vehicles across the world. They carried out a life-cycle assessment in which they not only calculated greenhouse gas emissions when using the cars, but also the emissions from production and waste processing.
They divided the world into 59 regions to account for differences in power generation and technology.
According to the researchers, under current conditions, driving an electric car is better for the climate than a conventional petrol car in 95% of the world.
The only exception is in places like Poland where the majority of electricity is still generated by coal.
The researchers found that the average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France, who get most of their electricity from renewables and nuclear energy.
The researchers projected that if by 2050, every second car on the roads are electric then this would reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatonnes a year, the equivalent to the total emissions of Russia.
Dr Jean-Francois Mecure, a researcher at the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter said: ‘We started this work a few years ago, and policy-makers in the UK and abroad have shown a lot of interest in the results. The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars over fossil-fuel alternatives.
‘We have seen a lot of discussion and disinformation about the environmental impact of electric cars.
‘Here is a definitive study that can dispel any myths. We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars.
‘Even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases. This insight should be very useful for policy-makers.’
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