CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury is reporting on the complexity around EVs and their questions surrounding their sustainability credentials.
The increasing popularity of electric cars has raised questions about their environmental impact. While electric vehicles (EVs) are generally considered greener than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles over their lifetime, there are complexities to consider. Most of the world's electricity grids are still powered by fossil fuels, and EV batteries, which rely on materials like lithium and cobalt, have an energy-intensive production process.
Studies indicate that driving an electric car is environmentally better than a gasoline-powered car in 95% of the world, but EVs' full green potential won't be realized until electricity sources become renewable, which may take several decades. Researchers project a 75% reduction in EV emissions by 2050 as grids become cleaner.
Battery production, particularly in older Chinese gigafactories, is a significant source of emissions. However, efforts are underway to improve battery technology and transition to greener energy sources in production.
Recycling of spent battery cells is currently limited but expected to grow as materials become scarcer and regulations tighten. Experts stress the need to add more renewable electricity generation capacity to grids.
Transitioning to EVs isn't a complete solution to climate change and must be accompanied by societal changes, including increased public transportation use and reduced reliance on private vehicles. Despite EV growth, the sheer volume of cars on the road still poses emissions challenges, highlighting the importance of reducing car ownership and promoting alternative transportation modes.
(This article was written with assistance from ChatGPT)