Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

19 Sep 2022

Electric car impacts

Posted by Michael Keating

We’re entering the era of the electric car, truck, bus, train and even some aircraft. They’re heralded as a panacea for dealing with climate change because they have no tailpipes to spew out carbon dioxide and other pollutants. They are sometimes called zero emission vehicles. But that doesn’t mean they have no environmental impacts. It may surprise a lot of people to see the greenhouse gas emissions from building, running and disposing of electric vehicles are far from zero. This is based on a European energy supply which includes electricity produced by burning fossil fuels. The Lloyds Banking Group in the United Kingdom did an analysis. It found that an electric car would be responsible for 25 tonnes of CO2 over its full life, with a lot coming from construction of the car and its batteries. By comparison a gasoline burning version of the same car would be responsible for 80 tonnes. The impact of electric vehicles will decrease with a continuing shift to renewable energy and improvements in recycling old batteries and vehicles.

picture of Ford's new electric Mustang Mach-E
An electric Mustang Credit: Ford Motor Co.

According to an article, Understanding the sustainability of electric cars, a sustainable vehicle is about more than tailpipe emissions. Car makers need to ensure the entire life cycle of a vehicle has low environmental impact. They need to adopt the principles of a circular economy that focus on the reusing and recycling resources where possible. This can include using renewable energy sources for manufacturing plants and recycling old vehicles and their batteries. The article appears on the United Kingdom website of AutoTrader a classified advertising business for cars. It is written from a UK and European Union perspective but many of the points it makes are global in nature.

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