Are Electric Vehicles Really So Climate Friendly?

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
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Electric vehicles also emit a substantial amount of carbon dioxide, with the only difference being that they emit via the power plant, not the exhaust pipe. Customers look at the new electric 530e BMW car, on display at the e-Motor show, in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, April 11, 2019. Image: AP Photo/Hussein Malla

As emission levels allowed from cars in Europe and America have dropped over the years, there has been an increase in the number of electric vehicles hitting the roads.

But are electric cars really climate-friendly?

That might not be the case, according to Hans-Werner Sinn, a professor of economics at the University of Munich.

Electric vehicles still not completely climate-friendly

Sinn, in an opinion piece published by The Guardian, say the European Union emission formula for cars “is nothing but a big scam” and that electric cars actually also emit a substantial amount of carbon dioxide, with the only difference being that electric cars emit via the power plant, not the exhaust pipe.

“As long as coal- or gas-fired power plants are needed to ensure energy supply during the “dark doldrums” when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shinning, EVs, like ICE vehicles, run partly on hydrocarbons,” Sinn wrote.

ICE cars, in this case, means Internal Combustion Engine cars.

“And even when they are charged with solar- or wind-generated energy, enormous amounts of fossil fuels are used to produce EV batteries in China and elsewhere, offsetting the supposed emissions reduction. As such, the EU’s intervention is not much better than a cutoff device for an emissions control system.”

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But in a rebuttal, William Todts, executive director of research firm Transport and Environment, says Sinn’s analysis is fundamentally flawed.

“Usually the plot is as follows: a smaller petrol or diesel car is compared with a bigger, more powerful electric car; then the fossil fuel car is assumed to be as efficient as the E.U.’s official tests portray,” Todts said.

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