EEA reports says electric cars good for climate & air quality
Hopefully, everyone at least realizes at this point that electric vehicles don't spew carbon emissions into the air that we breathe. But there has been much contention about the total life cycle emissions of EVs versus gas-powered cars, citing production emissions, and on and on.
Early on, there may have been a small argument that the production of an all-electric vehicle, and the fact that the energy source for the electricity was simply coming from coal, produced an unhealthy level of emissions comparable to an ICE vehicle. But, that has quickly dissipated, and now, it's becoming abundantly clear that EVs are the only real way to protect our air and combat climate change.
Battery-electric vehicles and even plug-in hybrids, when used in the correct manner can work to keep our air cleaner and reverse the impact of climate change. They emit less or even zero greenhouse gas and pollutants into our air. Several studies over time, and even many recent studies have proven this beyond any doubt. Now, a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) further substantiates what we already knew.
An EEA report entitled "Electric vehicles from life cycle and circular economy perspectives" divulges details that were already known and established to be true among people that support EVs, but are still heavily discounted by the masses and naysayer organizations. According to the report (via Green Car Congress):
Across its life cycle, a typical electric car in Europe produces fewer greenhouse gases and air pollutants compared with its gasoline or diesel equivalent, according to the report. Emissions are usually higher in the production phase of electric cars, but these are more than offset by lower emissions in the use phase over time.
Furthermore, the study shows that greenhouse gas emissions from electric car life cycles are some 17-30 percent less than that of ICE cars. Not only this, but they are decreasing exponentially, due to the EU energy production mix, which is also the case in a wealth of areas across the globe. The study states:
The largest potential reduction in GHG emissions between a BEV and an ICEV occurs in the in-use phase, which can more than offset the higher impact of the raw materials extraction and production phases. However, the extent to which the GHG emissions advantage is realised during the in-use stage of BEVs depends strongly on the electricity mix. BEVs charged with electricity generated from coal currently have higher life-cycle emissions than ICEVs, whereas the life-cycle emissions of a BEV could be almost 90% lower than an equivalent ICEV using electricity generated from wind power. In future, with greater use of lower carbon electricity in the European mix the typical GHG emissions saving of BEVs relative to ICEVs will increase.
While there is really no such thing as zero emissions, except via the vehicle's tailpipe, the level of emissions is greatly reduced with an electric car. Sure, the tire and brake wear and tear dispels emissions, as does particulates thrown up from the roadway. But, these are issues that impact every vehicle. You can't really argue that these impact EVs to a greater level, and you can't really argue that electric cars still pollute due to these factors. The new report elaborates:
BEVS can offer local air quality benefits due to zero exhaust emissions, e.g., nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). However, BEVs still emit PM locally from road, tre and brake wear, as all motor vehicles do. For local PM emissions, there is a great deal of uncertainty and variation in the results, depending on the assumptions made around ICEV emissions and on the different estimation methods for non-exhaust emissions. In addition, electricity generation also produces emissions.
Here, the spatial location of emissions is important. Where power stations are located away from population centres, replacing ICEVs with BEVs is likely to lead to an improvement in urban air quality, even in contexts in which the total emissions of the latter may be greater. Under these circumstances, the contribution of power stations to regional background levels of air pollution, which also affect the air quality in cities, will probably be outweighed by a reduction in local emissions. As the proportion of renewable electricity increases and coal combustion decreases in the European electricity mix (EC, 2016) the advantage in terms of air quality of BEVs over ICEVS is likely to increase in tandem.