Busting the myth that EVs lead to more emissions than fossil fuel cars

There’s a false rumor being spread around the internet by trolls, well-meaning people and…the likes of Politico and WSJ Editorial Board about the environmental benefit of electric vehicles. Essentially the claim is that since EVs have to be recharged largely through grid power, they end up emitting more greenhouse gases because our utilities are still reliant on fossil fuels for energy generation. Additionally, people are also falsely claiming that the manufacturing process of EVs is so carbon-intensive that it negates the vehicles’ emissions benefits. That could sound reasonable but as Greentech Media explained, these “Conclusions are reached through misrepresentation and reliance on projections that are known to be consistently inaccurate. The same substandard methods are applied to the economics of electric vehicles and to questions about the profitability of, and public investment in, EV charging infrastructure. Nonpartisan institutions, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Electric Power Research Institute, have published accurate and reliable studies” that have disproven this false claim.

Jalopnik deputy editor Michael Ballaban, took special issue with the WSJ op-ed and devoted his recent article “Enough with the ‘Actually, Electric Cars Pollute More’ Bullshit Already” to refuting its claims. One of his most salient points was this:

“But, as always, the real purpose of an op-ed like this is always reserved for the kicker:

These subsidies and exemptions inevitably divert consumer euros and corporate investment toward electric vehicles no matter their true environmental impact. Better to heed the report’s authors, who suggest allowing room for a range of possible auto technologies to blossom and compete.

Ah, now I see. “Please stop subsidizing electric cars,” in other words, “lest they be able to compete with fossil fuels, which are incredibly, massively, hugely subsidized themselves, to the tune of $20 billion a year.””

Why This Matters: Sure, there is a lot of room for improvement to sustainably source and recycle the materials it takes to manufacture all cars but especially the batteries of EVs. But however you look at it, gasoline is a dirty, finite resource and we shouldn’t be envisioning our future transportation as being reliant on its use. Plus, the more we commit to utility-scale and residential renewable energy the cleaner EVs will become. So next time you hear this false claim, you have our permission to say “well, actually??”.

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