The lifetime emissions of an electric vehicle versus a gasoline vehicle have become a hotly debated topic among governments. A new study comparing the climate impact of passenger cars could be pivotal in the debate.
According to the report, electric vehicles emit far fewer greenhouse gas emissions “from the cradle to the grave” than their gas-guzzling counterparts.
According to the study, the core result is the same around the world, even when applied to countries such as China and India, where the majority of the electricity used to charge an EV is generated by coal.
The findings are a rebuke to those in the automotive and oil lobbying industries who continue to claim that electric vehicles are no cleaner than gasoline-powered vehicles.
It comes at a time when governments are attempting to align their environmental policies with the Paris Agreement.
The climate change agreement, which was finalized in 2015, saw 143 countries, including the United States, agree to limit global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
To help meet that goal, Washington and California have proposed prohibiting the sale of new gasoline vehicles beginning in 2030 and 2035, respectively.
The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) study looked at the entire life-cycle of EVs and gasoline cars, from raw materials extraction to production to disposal.
Researchers investigated greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle and fuel types in four countries that account for 70% of global new car sales: the United States, the European Union, China, and India.
The report discovered that lifetime emissions for a medium-sized EV in Europe are between 66 and 69 percent lower than that of a gasoline vehicle in the same category for cars registered in 2021.
In the United States, an EV reduces emissions by 60 to 68 percent. In China, an electric vehicle reduces emissions by 37 to 45 percent. In India, it ranges from 19 to 34% lower.
By 2030, the gap between EVs and gas-guzzlers is expected to widen to 74-77 percent in Europe, 62-76 percent in the United States, 48-64 percent in China, and 30-56 percent in India.
Notably, the researchers anticipate that a vehicle will be on the road for approximately 18 years. They also claim that the disparity in the figures reflects the uncertainty about how each region’s energy mix will evolve, which is linked to future policies.
“One important finding from the analysis is that life-cycle emissions trends are similar across all four regions, despite differences in vehicle mix, grid mix, and so on.
“Battery electric vehicles EVs have better relative [greenhouse gas] emissions performance everywhere than conventional vehicles for cars registered today,” said ICCT deputy director Rachel Muncrief.
However, there are some caveats. Though electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions over time, they do have an impact on the environment.
According to one recent estimate, you’ll need to drive a new EV 13.5 thousand miles before you’re doing less harm than a gas-guzzling saloon.