Emissions from the transport sector are a major contributor to climate change—about 14% of annual emissions (including non-CO2 gases) and around a quarter of CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Even more concerning: At a time when global emissions need to be going down, transport emissions are on the rise, with improvements in vehicle efficiency being offset by the increasing volume of travel activities. Considering that the scientific debate on GHG (particularly CO2) as the major cause of Climate Change has long been concluded, it is on this premise that we should encourage the purchases and use of electric vehicles (EVs).
An EV, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through a collector system by electricity from off-vehicle sources, or may be self-contained with a battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity. EVs include, but are not limited to, road and rail vehicles, surface and underwater vessels, electric aircraft and electric spacecraft. Using electric motors for transport helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially if the electricity is from low-carbon sources like solar and wind—plus, the fact that it generates less-polluting substances to the environment.
Sample courses of action
- Investments into electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
- Research and development into the technologies for vehicles, batteries, and charging.
- Corporate commitments to the manufacturing, sales and servicing of electric vehicles.
- Goevrnment programs to offer rebates and incentives to electric car purchases and use.
- Considering that the world is largely dependent on coal and natural gas for electric power, the net effect of electrification will only be a slight change in emissions and temperature-impact.
- Switching to electric modes of transport makes the biggest impact for the climate when electrical energy sources are low-carbon i.e., when EVs operates and recharges within a carbon-free electric-grid.
Some Key Dynamics
Increased Transport Vehicles Electrification will normally result to the following climate-advantages:
- Overall efficiency is greater for electrified transport than for internal combustion engines, therefore, less fuels will be needed to power transport vehicles using electricity than oil.
- Oil demand goes down as we electrify transport. However, (in the absence of a carbon price or other taxes) it is inevitable that some electrical demand for charging the eVehicles will have to be powered by coal and, to a more limited extent, renewables.
- Improved air quality from fewer internal combustion engines increases healthcare savings and worker productivity.
- Creation of jobs in manufacturing, selling and servicing of electric batteries and vehicles.
- Although costs will be expected to go down, but electric vehicles may not be affordable or available to everyone.
- Mining of lithium and copper, two necessary ingredients for the batteries used in electric vehicles, can be damaging to precious ecosystems and threaten the well-being of communities near mining sites.
- Electric charging station locations may not be accessible or the electric battery range may be insufficient for some situations.
My upcoming Blog on this subject will quantitatively assess the effects of electric-transport policy-scenarios on the established climate-metrics of post-industrial global mean Temperature-Increase and Sea-level Rise, using the world climate simulator EnROADS.
References: 1.) EnROADS Reference Guide, 2.) U.N. webpage https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/, 3.) Transport Sector Emissions https://www.wri.org/blog/2019/10/everything-you-need-know-about-fastest-growing-source-global-emissions-transport