EVs environmental credentials trump petrol

According to new research published by Radboud University in the Netherlands, electric cars are almost always greener than petrol cars.

The findings concluded that EVs were cleaner even when considering that fossil fuels are used to generate most of the electricity needed to charge them. 

Switching to an electric car in most parts of the world will cut emissions, according to the research that debunks claims electric vehicles (EVs) are only greener if powered by renewable electricity. 

Only in countries heavily reliant on the dirtiest fuels like coal or oil – such as in India, Poland or the Czech Republic – is it better for the environment to drive a petrol car. 

The researchers divided the world into 59 regions depending on their electricity mix. In 53 of the regions, including most of Europe, China and the US, electric cars are already the greener choice even when accounting for production of the cars and emissions associated with charging them.  

Nations with electricity grids producing power at a carbon intensity of less than 1,100g per kilowatt hour (kWH) should switch to electric cars and heat pumps immediately, the study concluded. 

In the UK, where grid carbon intensity is about 210g CO2 per kWh, switching from petrol cars to EVs cuts emissions by 40 per cent. 

However, as electric cars still generate emissions during their production, study lead Dr Knobloch said people should think carefully about whether they even need to own their own car. 

“Switching to electric cars is not a silver bullet,” he said. “Electric cars still cause emissions even if we have green electricity. So we should make the production greener, but also we should really question where we really need individual ownership of cars.” 

More information on the study in the Nature Sustainability journal.