Climate Central, a non-profit scientific and journalism organization, examined how the grid within every U.S. state influenced which automobiles are the most “climate friendly”—that is, which cars emitted the least emissions over their entire life cycle. (Larson was among the report’s writers.) The researchers looked at the details of the energy situation in the United States, as well as lifecycle emissions related to producing and running 88 model-year 2017 cars for 100,000 miles (160,930 kilometers). Full-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, as well as gas and diesel-powered vehicles, were among the vehicles on display.
According to the study, driving an electric automobile was shown to be better for the environment in most places in the United States. However, driving a fuel-effective, the gas-powered automobile was actually better in 13 states, particularly places that depended heavily on coal, such as Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia.
The Climate Central report used data from Energy Information Administration on state energy mixes collected in 2015, which was the most recent publicly accessible data when the scientists were putting together the analysis. Since then, renewables have grown in popularity. The Biden administration is working to increase their market share even further while simultaneously promoting legislation that will increase charging infrastructure and the number of electric cars on the road. Meanwhile, the price of coal is plummeting. According to current estimates, 50% of the coal facilities that were operational in 2015 are going to still be operational in 2035.
Only 13 states have a sufficient green grid to enable driving an electric vehicle the most climate-friendly alternative, according to a prior electric vehicle analysis published by Climate Central in 2012, demonstrating how quickly change is occurring. As a result, when considering the emissions life span of electric vehicles, it’s crucial to maintain a forward-thinking mindset in mind. The International Council on Clean Transportation published research in July that indicated that driving an electric automobile produced much fewer carbon emissions in all parts of the world over the next 20 years. Even in China, where coal still reigns supreme, using an EV can reduce emissions by 37 to 45 percent.
In this examination, there are a few key aspects to keep in mind. The ICCT analysis, unlike the Climate Central report, “includes the enhancement of the electrical mix during the lifespan of the vehicles,” according to study author Georg Bieker. “This is a huge improvement! To put it another way, we look at emissions over the course of a vehicle’s lifetime, not just when it’s being driven right now.”
The ICCT study also assumes that the vehicles will be registered in the year 2021 and will be on the road within the next 15 – 18 years, offering EVs a lot of time to benefit from a shifting grid throughout their lives. According to Bieker, it also includes a new battery emissions calculation, which is centered on recent research.