The Impact of Electric Vehicles on the Environment

The Impact of Electric Vehicles on the Environment

Talk about electric vehicles (EVs) routinely centres around their climate impact – but that’s not the only thing.

The upshot is that electric vehicles will produce far less environmental damage over the course of their lifetime, due to lower driving emissions and lower emissions related to the generation of the electricity that fuels them, as well as the absence of large amounts of fluids containing toxic metals that leak out and pollute our waterways.

Reduced Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The widespread use of EVs can significantly reduce climate pollution from cars and trucks – as well as their cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, asthma, cancer and other health issues, as most of the harmful tailpipe emissions from fuel combustion disappear. By diminishing the air pollutants that underpin those ailments, EVs even help rectify them at their cause.

Yet a vehicle’s environmental footprint hinges on the source of the power; charging the car with fossil-fuel grids equals a higher production of climate pollution than hybrids.

But a plug-in vehicle can be far less polluting when charging, using a grid that contains a lot of renewable energy, as in Norway for example.

Mining the lithium that goes into an electric vehicle battery and the steel to build it both contribute emissions to the car’s lifetime pollution, but Argonne National Laboratory’s research, as well as that of the research team at Carbon Brief under the direction of Hannah Ritchie, a British data scientist, reveals that, when compared with a life cycle, a car – certainly if its driver has taken the option of charging during periods of low demand – an EV produces far less climate pollution than a petrol- or diesel-powered vehicle.

Reduced Air Pollution

Air pollution is a lifestyle threat to public health, with a long list of diseases associated with breathing pollutants. Both BEV and PHEV vehicles can wick away tailpipe emissions by far; and, by regenerative braking, far less brake dust to pollute the air.

Provided that the electricity used to charge an EV is renewably generated, it can have a carbon footprint of zero. They might still generate carbon pollution while they’re driven and charged – but, even in these scenarios, EVs generate a lot less climate pollution over their lifetime than conventional cars do. An April 2022 study at Princeton University found that replacing all light-duty vehicles with EVs, and expanding EV micromobility, could reduce air pollution by more than a third and save hundreds of thousands of lives every year.

Reduced Fuel Consumption

EVs are approximately four times more energy-efficient than gasoline cars, and use a 10th of the energy for each mile travelled. No energy is lost in the friction of combustion engines or exhaust emissions, and up to 25 per cent of energy can be saved!

This will cut down on fossil fuel use and emissions in the production, transportation and refining of oil, and that alone is good. Then again, EVs might actually run on biofuels and power from renewables that are much better for the climate than fossil fuels.

But the environmental consequences of EVs can vary depending on where the electric vehicle gets its charge. For example, driving one in EV-friendly Washington state, which sources much of its power generation from hydropower, emits drastically less climate pollution than driving one in the much more coal-heavy generation power mix of West Virginia; as more wind and solar generation come online in the US power grid this gap should widen; nonetheless all EVs generate far less climate pollution than petrol and diesel vehicles, which is hugely beneficial.

Reduced Noise

There is growing evidence of the adverse health effects associated with chronic exposure to noise pollution such as loss of hearing, the experience of tinnitus, as well as anxiety and depression. EVs emit a lot less noise pollution than equivalent vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines. This leads to a more pleasant noise environment for road users generally.

Noise produced by electric vehicles depends on the state of its motion — whether it’s braking or getting accelerated. According to the research, noise emitted by electric vehicles does not reach dangerous levels even under city traffic where speed is very low.

In broad terms, tailpipe emission-reduction equals less pollution entering the air that causes disease, premature deaths and other harmful effects to individuals who suffer from cardiovascular and respiratory afflictions. Ground-level ozone reduction will result in less pollution entering the air that contributes to respiratory diseases, as well as less oil burned and therefore less amounts of toxic metal entering the environment. Electric cars used on a massive scale will result in a cleaner and ultimately healthier environment for everyone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *