Electric vehicles and their ICE vehicle counterparts are becoming a greater mainstay in an increasingly climate-conscious society. Worldwide efforts towards becoming emission neutral by 2050 are becoming a closer reality thanks to the greater efficiency and availability of electric vehicles in recent years, and their impact on current and projected pollution levels should not be overlooked.
In a little over a year, just one electric car on the road is projected to save an average of 1.5 million grams of C02 from polluting the atmosphere - that’s the equivalent of four return flights from London to Barcelona. With one-fifth of all European greenhouse gas emissions coming from traditional transportation methods, electric car use and a wider availability for consumers has become a high potential solution in tangibly reducing our polluting effect on the atmosphere and sustaining a livable planet for all.
In fact, specific electric vehicle targets are part of climate neutrality plans across the globe. In Delhi, the country aims to sell electric vehicles exclusively by 2030; an implementation many European countries are ao looking to meet by 2035. It’s clear that electric vehicles are expected to play a central role in helping protect our climate - so let’s take a deeper dive.
The first and most central benefit of electric vehicles is that they require no fossil fuels to run as they use electricity exclusively. This means less exploitation of our planet, and fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere in every drive. Once on the road, electric vehicles offer less noise pollution, lower running costs, and a longer lifespan than traditional vehicles - lasting up to 58% longer.
For those currently opting for ICE vehicles, an electric vehicle could be an even more sustainable swap: they release half as much pollution into the air as their ICE counterparts. Switching from ICE to EV eliminates all toxic tailpipe pollution - a Saviour for people and the planet, as pollutants in this bracket, are responsible for over 50,000 premature deaths due to respiratory and cardiovascular disease.
Whilst holding some impressive credentials, electric vehicles and ICE vehicles are not necessarily a perfect solution. Electric vehicle manufacturing creates fewer emissions than a traditional vehicle in some areas of development but is still costly when it comes to their batteries. These areas of manufacture require more energy and produce more emissions overall. Lithium-ion battery production requires the extraction and refinement of rare earth metals and is known to be highly energy-intensive due to the high heat and sterile conditions needed.
The majority of electric vehicle battery production for European manufacture in 2016 took place in Japan and South Korea, where up to 40% of electricity generation is from coal. That said, electric vehicles are overall more energy efficient for travel and account for fewer emissions in fuel production and vehicle use phases.
There are some areas of the manufacture of electric vehicles that raise questions around sustainability and pollutant emissions; if in-country manufacture from start to finish became more possible, this would be a certain mitigator of these issues, as well as a player in reducing export and import costs, making electric vehicles more accessible overall.
It’s clear that electric vehicles have been a revolutionary development in transportation, and the prospect of further technological advancements in the field makes them an exciting possibility for climate protection in years to come. As with all technological developments in our global world, there are complexities in manufacturing and supply chains to be carefully considered.
However, as developments continue in manufacturing capabilities worldwide, we can be hopeful that the pollutant concerns within their current manufacturing process are mitigated in coming years, and that more localised manufacture becomes a possibility. Nonetheless, they are a welcome alternative to traditional transportation methods for those with an eye to planet preservation.
I'm really excited about what's to come for the EV sector and the impact this will have on the environment as a whole. Do you have any further thoughts on the points discussed in this article? I'd love to hear from you!
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