The real impact of electric cars on the environment

The electric cars market is experiencing an important growth, it is therefore legitimate to ask ourselves what their impact on the environnement is.

First of all, the electric cars battery production represents a substantial element to take into consideration. Mining of the nickel found in those batteries, is responsable for an enormous quantity of CO2 emissions. The second biggest nickel mining plant, has emitted 10 million of CO2 tons last year. Knowing that cars all together emit 49 million tons a year, these emissions correspond to a fifth of current emissions just for the production stage. This scenario is identical for other metals found in electric cars batteries such as lithium. The simple production of these batteries are therefore a much bigger menace than fuel production (1).

We could argue that these emissions widely compensate, emissions coming from fuel vehicles. In reality, a study conducted by the European Commission (2) demonstrates that half of general emissions coming from fuel vehicles actually don’t come from fuel consumption but brakes and tires’ wear. Both emit thin particles in the atmosphere in very big quantities. Electric vehicles don’t make exception to these, meaning they at least emit half as much CO2 when running.

Finally, electric car batteries recycling also is a non-negligible factor. Currently 90% of batteries coming from fuel vehicles are recycled, against 5% for lithium batteries coming from electric cars (1). The non-recyclable materials of that kind of battery, are at the origin of highly toxic gases and induce a high risk of water pollution (3).

You are considering acquiring an electric vehicle to reduce you carbon footprint ? Think twice, the general opinion on electric vehicles is far from resembling the truth…

 

(1)  https://www.ft.com/content/8342ec6c-5fde-11e7-91a7-502f7ee26895
(2)  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/04/fewer-cars-not-electric-cars-beat-air-pollution-says-top-uk-adviser-prof-frank-kelly?CMP=fb_gu
(3)  https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/aug/10/electric-cars-big-battery-waste-problem-lithium-recycling

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