Some skeptical readers have wondered if electric vehicles, or EVs, are really cleaner than gasoline-powered cars when considering CO2 emissions across production/use cycles. Since this is an important question, I did some research on the subject.
All of the studies I found were consistent with the conclusion that, throughout the life cycle of an electric vehicle, it is cleaner than current alternatives and is getting cleaner every day. For example, MIT, a highly respected research university (https://tinyurl.com/2c2aks6m), reported the following results from a July 2021 study:
Average operational emissions from electric vehicles were 200 grams of CO2 per mile compared to 275 grams per mile for gasoline-powered hybrids (which, by the way, are significantly cleaner than standard gasoline-powered cars and trucks).
The MIT researchers further stated, “We predict that by cleaning up the grid, we can reduce emissions from electric vehicles…to about 50 grams per mile by 2050.” (Duke Energy is on track, currently getting more than a third of its energy from clean sources, with plans to close all of its coal-fired plants by 2030 and to produce zero emissions by 2050).
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While acknowledging the additional environmental impacts of electric vehicle production, Florian Knobloch, fellow at the Cambridge Center for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance, noted that “these higher production numbers are seen as an upfront investment, which pays off fairly well. quickly due to lifetime emission reductions.
One more comment on this: our lawmakers continually complain that EVs aren’t paying “their fair share” for the roads. They actually pay an additional annual registration fee of $140, which is equivalent to the current state gas tax (38 cents per gallon) for someone driving a 28 mpg gasoline car on 10,316 miles (and which charges the gas-powered car owner exactly $0 for the climate change increase in the cost of using his vehicle).
The writer is a member of the Greensboro Sierra Club.