Electric Cars Would Cause Added CO2 Emissions in Certain Countries

Electric cars are commonly hailed as eco-friendly alternatives to harmful gasoline-burning vehicles, but a study by Oxford University’s Reed Doucette and Malcolm McCulloch suggests that the adoption of electric cars may actually accelerate global climate change.

The results of the modeling exercise, which were published in Energy Policy last Fall, indicate that developing countries would emit more, not less, CO2 if electric cars were to eclipse gas-based vehicles.


Researchers assessed the emissions of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and internal combustion engines (ICEs) in various countries. They found that countries with high CO2 intensities – like China and India – failed to see a decrease in heat-trapping gases from the adoption of BEVs.

China and India rely on dirty power supplies, so the generation of energy for BEVs would still be environmentally harmful, and could actually lead to higher CO2 emissions.

“Given the state of their power generation mixes in 2010, the case for widespread adoption of [electric vehicles] in both China and India solely on the basis of potential CO2 emissions reductions is not too compelling, especially when the generally higher capital cost of [electric vehicles] relative to [gasoline]-based vehicles is considered,” Doucette and Malcolm McCulloch concluded.


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