Even if electricity generation still involves fossil fuels and decarbonization isn't happening quickly, electric cars still produce fewer emissions. The same goes for home heating.
It's a myth that needs to go away
Electric cars are often questioned by media reports, and there's a general myth that electric cars aren't really better for the environment unless all their electricity comes from clean sources.
Well, that's not true, a recent study suggests.
A new study carried out by researchers from the universities of Exeter in the UK and Nijmegen in the Netherlands found that driving an electric car is already better for the climate in 95% of the world.
The only exceptions (countries in red) are places like Poland, India, and in the case of household heating, Australia.
Florian Knobloch and colleagues carried out lifecycle assessments and complied them into an integrated model representing the electricity, transportation, and heating sectors for 59 regions around the globe. They then studied the full life-cycle emissions from electric vehicles and heat pumps over time, comparing how electric vehicles fare against "conventional" cars. They looked at the global level, as well as the regional level (including many individual countries).
The conclusion? Almost everywhere you look, electric cars produce lower emissions.
In renewable-rich countries such as France or Sweden, emissions from electric cars are up to 70% lower than gas cars. But even in countries that only get a portion of their electricity from renewables, it's still a significant and positive change.
The same goes for heating: in almost all countries in the world, switching to electric makes a net reduction in emissions.
There are some notable exceptions: Poland, India, and Australia among them. These countries have one thing in common: they use a lot of coal.
But as decarbonization continues to take place, the impact can increase even more. In terms of emissions, electric cars really are better, and they'll get even better as we use more renewable energy. Myth -- busted.