Study seeks to debunk emissions claims

New research has debunked the myth that electric cars are in fact worse for the environment than their petrol fuelled peers.

Academics from the universities of Nijmegen in The Netherlands, and Exeter and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, undertook a wide-ranging investigation into the use of electric cars in regions that cover 95% of the world’s land mass to understand whether electric vehicle use was more environmentally friendly.

The study, “Net emission reductions from electric cars and heat pumps in 59 world regions over time” published in Nature sustainability, divided the world into into 59 regions and found that in 53 of them electric cars lowered emissions compared to fossil-fuel cars.

There has been a view that electric cars produce more emissions than regular vehicles and whilst the sale of electric vehicles has risen rapidly the debate over their emission levels has not disappeared.

The study covered the entire lifecycle assessment of cars, including production and driving emissions, and the differences were striking.

It factored in the way in which electricity was produced within the regions, which saw countries which have high levels of renewable energy provision such Sweden scoring highly as did France, which relies heavily in nuclear power. However, on the whole even in those nations where electricity was created via fossil fuels the use of electric vehicles was still more environmentally friendly.

Jean-Francois Mercure, of Exeter University, a co-author of the study, said the findings were compelling.

“The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil fuel alternatives,” he said.

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