In 2050, every second car on the streets could be electric which would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons per year — equivalent to the total current CO2 emissions of Russia, a new study has predicted.
Under current conditions, driving an electric car is better for the climate than conventional petrol cars in 95 per cent of the world, said researchers.
It is a known fact that electric cars are friendlier to the environment and produce fewer greenhouse gases than petrol vehicles.
“The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil-fuel alternatives,” said study lead author Florian Knobloch from the Radboud University in the Netherlands.
The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, found that average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70 per cent lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France (which get most of their electricity from renewables and nuclear), and around 30 per cent lower in the UK.
In a few years, even inefficient electric cars will be less emission-intensive than most new petrol cars in most countries, as electricity generation is expected to be less carbon-intensive than today.
The research team also looked at electric household heat pumps, and found that these too produce lower emissions than fossil-fuel alternatives in 95 per cent of the world.
Heat pumps could reduce global CO2 emissions in 2050 by up to 0.8 gigatons per year – roughly equal to Germany’s current annual emissions, it added.
The study examined the current and future emissions of different types of vehicles and home heating options worldwide. It divided the world into 59 regions to account for differences in power generation and technology.
In 53 of these regions – including all of Europe, the US and China – the findings show electric cars and heat pumps are already less emission-intensive than fossil-fuel alternatives.
These 53 regions represent 95 per cent of global transport and heating demand and, with energy production decarbonising worldwide, Knobloch said the “last few debatable cases will soon disappear”.
The researchers carried out a life-cycle assessment in which they not only calculated greenhouse gas emissions generated when using cars and heating systems, but also in the production chain and waste processing.
“Taking into account emissions from manufacturing and ongoing energy use, it’s clear that we should encourage the switch to electric cars and household heat pumps without any regrets,” Knobloch noted.