Are electric vehicles really green? Three verified arguments

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 Are electric vehicles really green?  Three verified arguments

Do electric vehicles really contribute to saving the planet? Their detractors estimate that the environmental benefits are exaggerated, but when it comes to global warming, studies say that they emit less greenhouse gases than cars with a combustion engine.

According to the Single National Traffic Registry (Runt), Colombia closed the month of April with 7,782 electric vehicles registered, and the goal for 2030 is that some 600,000 vehicles of this technology are circulating on the country’s roads.

It is important to distinguish the impact on the climate from other aspects, such as mining pollution. The AFP Agency verified three statements circulating on social networks regarding electric vehicles.

“Coal” vehicles?

A frequent argument is that these electric cars emit as many greenhouse gases as thermal cars, since the electricity they use is produced by plants that use fossil fuelslike coal.

But according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a charged electric car in Saint Louis, in Miouri, one of the states whose electricity is most dependent on coal, produces an average of 247 grams of CO2 per mile (about 154 grams per kilometer), against 381 grams for a thermal vehicle.

The carbon balance of an electric car depends on the region or the country where it has been recharged: it is more important in countries like Poland or in Asian nations that produce a good part of their electricity from coal than in France, where it depends mainly on electricity. nuclear energy.

And if you take into account the entire life cycle, including the production of battery raw materials, and going all the way to end-of-life recycling, thermal cars emit much more CO2 than electric carsaccording to the expert organization International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in a comprehensive study.

Thermal vehicles emit significantly more CO2 than electric cars. – Photo: Pedro Danthas – Volvo

dirty mining extraction

The manufacture of batteries is a process that spends a lot of energybecause some components come from mining extraction and because the raw materials must be transported around the world for the assembly and sale process.

According to a ‘post’ shared on Facebook, it would be necessary to digging 227 tons of earth to extract the metals needed for a single battery of an electric vehicle. This estimate appears to come from an analysis published in 2020 by the Manhattan Institute, a climate change skeptical research group.

But according to several experts consulted by AFP, these figures are misleading. They are a gross exaggeration. estimates Peter Newman, a professor of sustainable development at Curtin University in Australia. According to him, it all depends on the region of exploration and the type of battery.

Electric vehicles in Norway
The manufacture of batteries for electric cars is a process that spends a lot of energy. – Photo: AFP

Beyond the weather mining extraction has other negative impacts: 70% of cobalt, one of the components of batteries, comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, where children are exploited in mines.

But the risk of global warming caused by greenhouse gases is very important for humanity, according to the UN climate experts (GIEC).

“In any case, it is clear that the social and environmental impact of global warming is catastrophic and of a magnitude much higher than that of mining for batteries”, assures Georg Bieker, ICCT researcher.

The risk of snow

After a snow storm in Virginia, in the United States, Internet users shared ‘posts’ on Facebook assuring that electric vehicles can be damaged in traffic jams, leaving their passengers trapped without heating inside and further lengthening the lines of cars.

Several fact-checking organizations have tried to verify this claim and have found no evidence that it is true.

The issue of excessive consumption of electric cars when it is cold is the subject of debate among experts, and some claim that thermal cars consume more because they must keep the engine running to make the heating work.

The British magazine Which tested the battery of an electric 4×4 simulating a situation of traffic jam in summer, with the air conditioning, the lights on inside, and a connected tablet. In those summer conditions (but certainly not winter) only 2% of the battery was consumed in an hour and a quarterthat is, the equivalent of 13 kilometers of autonomy.

*With information from the AFP Agency

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