31 March 2020
A new study dispels the myth that electric vehicles could increase carbon emissions once and for all. Researchers found that driving an electric car is better for the planet than conventional petrol cars in 95% of the world, even after accounting for emissions from production and generating electricity.
The study found that average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France (which get most of their electricity from renewables and nuclear), and around 30% lower in the UK. The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal.
In the future, as more electricity comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar, even inefficient electric cars will be less emission-intensive than most new petrol cars in most countries.
The study projects that by 2050, every second car on the streets could be electric. This would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatonnes per year, equivalent to the total current CO2 emissions of Russia.
The study also looked at electric household heat pumps, and found they too produce lower emissions than fossil-fuel alternatives in 95% of the world.
Heat pumps could reduce global CO2 emissions in 2050 by up to 0.8 gigatonnes per year – roughly equal to Germany’s current annual emissions.
“The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil-fuel alternatives.” said Dr Jean-Francois Mercure, of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter.
“The idea that electric vehicles or electric heat pumps could increase emissions is essentially a myth,” added Dr Florian Knobloch, of the Environmental Science Department at the University of Nijmegen (The Netherlands), the lead author of the study.
This is good news for Oxford citizens, where Energy Superhub Oxford is creating the world’s most powerful electric vehicle charging network, installing 100 electric vehicle charge points and equipping 300 properties in and around Oxford with innovative ground source heat pumps to accelerate the city’s zero carbon journey.
Find out how you can get involved!