By Daniel Settlemyer
The Union of Concerned
Scientists (UCS) recently published an extensive report, along with
informational videos and graphics, detailing how much cleaner electric vehicles
(EVs) are than their fuel-burning counterparts.
The study pitted two cars against
each other – similar in size, but different in power source – to measure the
difference in carbon dioxide emissions over each car’s life. Building the EV turned out to have a
higher carbon impact than building the gas-powered car due to the large,
resource-intensive battery upon which EVs rely. Within 18 months of driving,
however, the emissions savings from the EV offset the cost in carbon to build it.
By the end of an average car’s lifespan, carbon emissions from the EV turned
out to be half that of the gasoline car.
UCS predicts that as
technology for EVs advances, the emissions savings will steadily rise as we
move away from fossil sources for electricity generation. According to the
report, “emissions from operating electric vehicles are likely to
keep falling, as national data from 2013 to 2015 show a declining percentage of
electricity generated by coal power and an increase in renewable resources such
as wind and solar.”
The California Department of Public Health reports that 38% of greenhouse gas
emissions in California come from transportation, and that personal vehicles
make up 79% of those emissions. That means that California commuters are responsible
for the majority of the State’s GHG emissions. Thankfully, UCS found that 69% of drivers
drive less than 60 miles a day during the work-week which is within the single
charge range of most EVs currently on the market.
As countries around the world strive to
showcase their ability to reduce carbon emissions, the opportunity arises for drivers
in the US – and right here in Sonoma County – to spearhead this movement by
switching to EVs, which can cut their carbon emissions in half.
To learn more about the
report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, click here: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life-cycle-ev-emissions#.Vk-0s3arTIV
Settlemyer is a student in Sonoma State University’s Energy Management &
Design program and a Fall 2015 intern at the Center for Climate Protection.