Switching to electric vehicles is futile, according to critics, since even if they are significantly more efficient than automobiles with internal combustion engines—which they are—that doesn’t account for the carbon required to produce and then scrap them. Well, don’t worry, it’s not true. In the US market today, a medium-sized battery EV emits 60–68% less CO2 throughout its lifespan than a comparable vehicle with an internal combustion engine. And as we utilize more renewable energy, the disparity will widen even more.
Georg Bieker of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) produced a white paper on this topic. The detailed review compares the lifetime carbon emissions of midsized vehicles in Europe, the United States, China, and India, today and in 2030, across a diverse variety of powertrain kinds, such as gasoline, diesel, hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) (FCEVs). (The ICCT is the same group that funded the Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions investigation.) The study considers carbon emissions from several fuels (biofuels, electricity, hydrogen, e-fuels, fossil fuels), as well as emissions from vehicle manufacture, recycling, and disposal. According to the analysis, Bieker has also considered real-world fuel or energy usage, which is especially relevant when it comes to PHEVs. Finally, the analysis takes into consideration the fact that, depending on stated government goals, power generation might become lower carbon-intensive over time.
According to the report, a BEV travelling throughout Europe today emits 66–69% less carbon than an equivalent gasoline-powered vehicle. In the United States, that range is 60–68% lower over its lifetime. Although the scale is not as huge in India and China, a BEV still is cleaner compared to a fossil burner. BEVs emit 37–45 % fewer emissions in China and 19–34 percent in India.
If the four areas stick to their publicly disclosed decarbonization plans, the margin will increase in favor of BEVs by 2030. Even more efficient engine technology and fuel production are taken into account in the study. The disparity is expected to reach 74–77% in Europe, 62–76% in the US, 48–64% in China, and 30–56 % in India. According to Bieker, the huge range is due to “a substantial uncertainty over how the future electricity balance develops in each location,” according to Bieker. There’s also some good information for hydrogen fans in the report. FCEVs are now only 26–40% less carbon-intensive than similar gasoline vehicles. However, if hydrogen were created utilizing renewable power rather than natural gas steam reformation, the figure would rise to 76–80 percent, which is even better than the figures for a BEV.