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 Climate Change

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Published on: July 28, 2021, 12:11 p.m.
Electric vehicles best placed to tackle Climate Change
  • BEVs outperform conventional vehicles in terms of relative GHG emissions

By Business India Editorial

According to a new comprehensive analysis conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a battery electric vehicle (BEV) sold today will emit fewer greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) over the lifespan of the vehicle, than all other fuels and drivetrains of conventional vehicles, including from raw material extraction to recycling and disposal. The report concludes that EVs' clear superiority makes them critical for combating the climate crisis.

The study's author, ICCT researcher Georg Bieker, stated: “There is no realistic pathway to meaningful emissions reductions that relies on fossil-fuelled vehicles, including hybrids of any sort.”

India included

As per an ICCT's analysis, ‘A global comparison of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of combustion engine and electric passenger cars,’ looked at four distinct, globally representative regions – the European Union, the United States, China, and India – and captured the differences between those markets, which account for roughly 70 per cent of new car sales worldwide. The GHG emissions from cars registered in 2021 are compared to those expected to be registered in 2030. Even with cars on the road today, BEVs outperform conventional vehicles in terms of relative GHG emissions in every region.

Peter Mock, ICCT’s managing director for Europe said: “Even for India and China, which are heavily reliant on coal for power, battery EVs (BEVs) still outperform fossil fuel vehicles in terms of life-time emissions impact. The results show that BEVs are universally superior.”

Detailed investigation

What distinguishes the findings from previous vehicle life-cycle analyses is the breadth of its methodology in considering:

- All relevant powertrain types, including plug-in hybrid EVs, as well as a variety of fuel types such as biofuels, electro-fuels, hydrogen, and electricity.

- The lifetime average carbon intensity of fuel and electricity mixes, accounting for changes in carbon intensity over a vehicle’s lifetime given current energy policies.

- Real-world usage instead of relying on official test values to calculate fuel and electricity consumption; this is particularly important when gauging GHG emissions of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

-The latest data on production and market average supply chains of industrial batteries which lead to significantly lower estimates of battery-produced GHGs than those found in other studies.

- The short-term potential for global warming due to natural gas and gas-driven methane leakage.

ICCT has found that only renewable electricity-powered BEVs and FCEVs can achieve the kind of deep reduction in the transportation GHG emissions needed to achieve Paris's objective of well below 2 degrees C world warming.

In order to achieve this objective, in 2050 world transport must emit approximately 80 per cent lower GHG emissions than it does today. As transport demand is anticipated to grow during that period, the on-road fleet should only consist of technologies that can achieve more than 80 per cent reduction over its life cycle by 2050.

The report's conclusions are timely, with changes recently proposed by the European Union to its regulation on passenger car emissions and the United States due to announce that strong car emission standards will be reinstated during this month. The research has shown that grid decarbonisation is an important factor in the GHG performance of these vehicles, as standards promote the production and adoption of low and zero-emission vehicles.

“This study should serve to inform the new global transport emissions policy for the quick transition to a 100 per cent electric fleet,” said Bieker. “To avoid the worst climate impacts, transformational changes are necessary.”

What the study suggests

The analysis recommends policies for promoting the acceptance of EVs and helping to decarbonise their lifecycle:

- In 2030-2035 the registration of new combustion engine vehicles is expected to be phased out. Only technologies that achieve profound decarbonisation of all cars globally by 2050 should be produced and recorded by 2030–2035 in view of average vehicle lifespans of 15 to 18 years.

- Green BEVs and green hydrogen-powered FCEVs are the only two pathways of technology. In vehicles which are registered with new internal combustion engines in the next decade, hybridisation can be used to lower fuel consumption; however hybrid or hybrid plug-in vehicles do not reduce GHG emissions on a long-distance basis.


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