It seems that the more I try to make sense out of the craze to move to a decarbonized society, the more confused I become. The latest such feat to leave one scratching their head is the electrical vehicle movement. In theory it sounds pretty simple. We simply plug our cars into to our homes and our thirst for oil and all the climate altering CO2 it produces will miraculously go away. As it turns out, if we are truly concerned with reducing CO2 (which I’m not) this exercise would provide exactly the opposite.
First its important to understand what electric vehicles are attempting to replace, the internal combustion engine, and of course the gasoline they burn which in turn emits pollution, namely CO2. I’m actually more concerned about the other pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, but for the sake of argument we’ll just focus on CO2. What we have been conditioned to believe is that electric vehicles that have no emissions should replace that old gas guzzling clunker we have all grown to love.
What I did find simply amazing is that if we look at internal combustion advancements, cars of today are vastly different than those of just a generation ago. In fact, the car of today has reduced emission pollution by a stunning 99%. That’s right, the car of today produces only 1% of the pollution a car of the 1960 vintage did. 1% isn’t bad, but even 1% is too much by many environmentalist standards and still way too much when compared with the 0% emissions of an EV.
Before we simply call EV’s the clear-cut winner, we need to more closely examine the CO2 output of the modern EV. As it turns out, by no means can they ever be considered zero emissions. When EVs are plugged in, the electricity doesn’t just magically appear, it comes from the grid and I assure you it does come with a CO2 footprint. As we have talked about before, a 100% renewable energy portfolio is 100% impossible, so fossil fuels are going to be a mainstay for the very distant future. Currently natural gas and coal make up the majority of energy production in the world and by even the most optimistic projections, renewables would at best be around 30% by the year 2050.
As it turns out, based on calculations by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), if we replace traditional internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles, air pollution (CO2) would actually INCREASE. When we also add in the strenuous environmental issues associated with the manufacturing of electric vehicles, which is dramatically higher than a traditional gas-powered vehicle, the CO2 emission gap widens even further. So, when we put it all together EV’s do exactly the opposite of what we have been led to believe.
Electric Vehicle deployment is entirely based on generous subsidies, but we might want to really consider who is benefiting. A nationwide survey showed that 56% of people who claimed the subsidy had household incomes over $100,000, and 17% had incomes exceeding $200,000. I think its fair to state that the wealthy are benefiting at the expense of the poor who cannot afford EV’s even with their hefty subsidies.
A recent article in Politico stated that “Wealthy owners of EV’s will enjoy the benefits of their clean silent cars while passing on many of the costs of keeping their vehicles on the road to everyone else, especially the poor”. The subsidies are also of great benefit to EV manufacturers and just in the past 3 years Tesla alone has pocketed over $860 million tax-payer dollars while still unable to produce any profit.
So, tell me again why we are making the push to replace the modern internal combustion vehicle? The environmental argument falls entirely flat as widespread implementation would result in a net increase of CO2 emissions. The only real positive for EV’s is that they are a performance marvel, so if you are in need of a vehicle to get off the line faster than a Formula 1 race car then an EV might be for you. I guess the real question is should we all be required to subsidize someone else’s expensive toy? This might be a good conversation to have with your local congressman.