Newsweek has published an interesting opinion piece by Bjorn Lomberg where he actually analyzes the CO2 savings from switching to an electric vehicle vs. just purchasing carbon offsets.
He demonstrates that subsidies for electric vehicles are hugely disproportionate to the amount of carbon dioxide emissions prevented.
Climate activists and politicians constantly tell us electric cars are cleaner, cheaper, and better. California and many countries, including the U.K., Germany, and Japan, will even prohibit the sale of new gas and diesel cars within a decade or two. But if electric cars are really so good, why do we need to ban the alternatives? And why do we need to subsidize electric cars to the tune of $30 billion per year?
The reality is far more muddled than the boosters of electric cars would have you believe. Carbon emissions from an electric car depend on whether it is recharged with clean or coal power. Moreover, battery manufacturing requires masses of energy, which is today mostly produced with coal in China. That is why the International Energy Agency estimates that an electric car using the global average mix of power sources over its lifetime will still emit about half as much CO2 as a gas car. You can buy that same carbon emission reduction on America’s longest-established carbon trading system for about $300. Yet many countries pay more than 20 times that amount in subsidies to convince people to make the switch.
There is no air pollution from the engine of an electric car, but it needs electricity, which can end up polluting more. One new study found that electric cars cause more of the most dangerous particulate air pollution than gasoline-powered cars in two-thirds of American states. In China, an extra electric car pollutes slightly less if driven in areas with new, cleaner power plants, but it produces slightly more pollution in regions with older power plants.
Ultimately, the reason electric cars are championed is because of their promised emission reductions. Yet the IEA estimates that even if the whole world achieves all of its ambitious stated electric vehicle targets by 2030, the additional saved CO2 emissions over this decade will be 235 million tons. The standard climate model used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reveals that this will reduce global temperatures by only 0.0002°F by 2100.
Electric vehicles will only take over when innovation has made them better and cheaper than gas-powered cars. But politicians want the change now and are planning to waste hundreds of billions of dollars subsidizing electric cars, blocking consumers from choosing the cars they want, to achieve virtually nothing for the climate.
The full article at Newsweek is well worth a read.,