How Green are Electric Vehicles?

According to an article by Carla Lipsig Mumme and Caleb Goods, “an EV powered by average European electricity production is likely to reduce a vehicle’s global warming potential by about 20% over its life cycle. This is not insignificant, but it is nowhere near a zero-emission option”. “The Battery Revolution is exciting, but Remember they Pollute too”  in The Conversation (June 2) also raises a bigger question: “For a technology to be seriously considered ‘green,’ the processes by which the tech is produced and the ways in which it operates, must also be ‘green.’” The authors then discuss the detrimental health consequences of the mining and manufacture of lithium ion batteries, which is the focus of a spin-off article in the National Observer, “ Your green Car could cause Black Rain in China”  .

Yet there are emission savings to be made, according to researchers from the School of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, who released the results of their investigation into Canadian consumer attitudes to electric vehicles in July.   Electrifying Vehicles: Insights From The Canadian Plug-in Electric Vehicle Study states that “With today’s electricity grids, usage of PEVs can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80—98% in British Columbia, around 45% in Alberta, and 58—70% in Ontario.”

In August, Quebec, California, and The Netherlands announced the launch of the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance (ZEV Alliance) to accelerate global adoption of electric vehicles. The press release states uses the term “zero emission vehicles”, and states that the number of ZEVs registered in Quebec has increased by 134 percent over the last 16 months, thanks largely to government incentives and a well-developed public charging infrastructure.

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