Electric cars "may accelerate global warming"

Because I REALLY want to drive something that looks like THAT...

Oops – the law of unintended consequences at work – again. What they mean, of course, is that electric cars may cause more emissions of harmless carbon dioxide, which may (or may not) have a significant and/or dangerous effect on the climate. Either way, it’s hilarious, because governments are pushing electric cars as yet another panacea for saving the planet, but just like wind farms, it turns out to be an illusion:

Electric cars are not a silver bullet solution for global warming, but could they actually be part of the problem?  In some developing countries, the answer is likely “yes,” according to the results of a modeling exercise conducted by Oxford University’s Reed Doucette and Malcolm McCullocha.

The results, which appeared in a paper published in Energy Policy last Fall, found that for countries with dirty power supplies – like India and China – widespread adoption of electric vehicles could lead to more – not less – CO2 emissions compared to widespread adoption of gasoline based vehicles, unless dramatically less CO2 intensive.

“Given the state of their power generation mixes in 2010, the case for widespread adoption of [electric vehicles] in both China and India solely on the basis of potential CO2 emissions reductions is not too compelling, especially when the generally higher capital cost of [electric vehicles] relative to [gasoline]-based vehicles is considered,” Doucette and Malcolm McCulloch concluded. (source)

It’s isn’t compelling anywhere else, either…

(h/t Climate Change Dispatch)


  1. The studies I have seen show a lower co2 output for electric cars just because they are more efficient, particularly when used in dense traffic.

    However, all the talk about c02 emissions with electric cars misses a major point – electrics are excellent for local pollution, of both the airborne and noise kind. While they are still someway short of being an excellent replacement for petrol in most cases, there’s definitely a case to be made for short-distance, urban work by electric cars. One sniff of the two-stroke laden air in a developing country and most people would agree the blue smoke and angry buzzing noise would be better replaced with the silent whirr of electrics, with the pollution being generated away from the city.

    Whether the cost can be brought down to compete with a honda scooter – well, that’s another question entirely.

  2. The Loaded Dog says:

    “Because I REALLY want to drive something that looks like THAT”…

    So says Mr Bean.

  3. froggy uk says:

    After seeing an article on the BBC news by Quentin Wilson regarding electric cars i nearly choked on my cornflakes with laughter, despite of this guy being an eco fruitake he had to divulge that electric cars lose nearly 50% of their power in cold weather, then take into consideration youd need the heater on which would suck more juice out of the battery pack, then not forgetting the wipers & lights on a frosty morning, so im guessing that they might get 1/2 mile out of a full charge,,,whoopie doo!,
    Also I dont know about road laws in “oz” but here in the UK you cant use electrically propelled vehicles on the motorways, so not much fun going miles out of your way which would normally be a short hop on a motorway.

    • Much as I like to join in and give ridiculous green technology a good kicking, there’s a bit of BS getting thrown around in these comments. Highway capable EV’s are available, and are going to increase in number due to the better battery technologies now available and starting to be manufactured in larger numbers. The Chinese are investing big money in battery factories right now, so prices will probably go the way of computer memory. It’s just rubbish to say you can’t use an electric car on the motorway. You can’t use a non-highway certified electric on the motorway, but then you can’t use a non-highway certified tractor on the motorway either.

      Yes, it’s true that hills, heaters, lights and wipers will reduce the range of an electric car, but to pretend that they don’t work in cold weather is rubbish. If you’re talking about a noddy G-Wiz or something, then yes, they deserve only to be used as golf transport and should be held as a laughing stock.

      A real, proper EV like the Leaf, Mi-ev or Tesla uses a temperature controlled battery pack with enough power to last at least 100 miles, with double that possible in the right conditions. Even in cold weather you’ll get at least half of that.

      Electric cars are expensive, new technology. No, they shouldn’t be goverment subsidised. Yes, some are being foolishly marketed on a ‘save the world’ platform instead of advertising their real benefits such as lower running costs, silent running and zero local emissions. No, they don’t make sense for most people, but don’t dismiss them just because ecowarriors love them. One day you might want one as your second car. If battery prices halve and fuel prices double, they’ll be making a lot more sense to a lot more people. Diesels were once a joke, don’t forget, and now represent 50% of all new sales in Europe.

      • The Loaded Dog says:

        “but don’t dismiss them just because ecowarriors love them.”

        Uhuh and fair enough.

        But it’s SO hard not to dismiss them (electric cars, or anything else green) because ecotards “love them.”

        I personally am GUT SICK of ecotards meddling in my life and trying to guilt me into submission to the authority of their religion.

        Environmentalists are the new wowsers and they are nothing but bloody religious fanatics.


        and I am over them………

  4. Hey dog.

    70% of CO comes from vehicle through combustion process
    vehicle emits also lead in the air.

    This is a propaganda of the sponsor company.

    Why not change business?
    In the Philipines this oxymorons we call them pataygutom.
    They are capable of utilizing monetary ish but still killing lives and wage war.

    Whatever the intent are, bad practice of communication.
    Facts are gas produce 70% of CO and also lead in the air through combustion.
    Other facts are Oil wage war, Lake of fire (Mexico).

    @dogies pls use your brain thats the purpose of it .

    • Well, I’ll assume that you’re ESL and leave the grammar and spelling well enough alone.

      Let’s get some facts straight.
      70% of CO(2) does not come from cars (this is what I assume ‘vehicle through combustion process’ means). It’s amazing how quickly these memes spread.

      In fact, total transport emissions, including planes, ships, trucks, trains and cars only account for 24% of total man-made co2 emissions (source:IPCC AR4). Private vehicles only makes up a small percentage of that (a 747 or bulk-carrier uses considerably more fuel than a family wagon)

      In addition to that, natural sources of co2 are 20 times greater than that of human co2 emissions. (source:IPCC AR4)

      So total human emissions are 1/20th total co2 output (5%), and of that 5%, total transport is 24%. And of that, cars are a small fraction (don’t have a reference).

      So your claim of 70% of anything is total and utter rubbish and I’d advise looking things up before copy/pasting from somewhere else.

      Your other comment about lead in fuel (tetraethyl lead additive) is similary off-mark. Lead additive is indeed toxic and has been removed from petrol in most countries 20-30 years ago due to the health effects. In fact the only hold outs are those hotbeds of economic activity Yemen, Afghanistan and North Korea. (source:Wikipedia). The only fuel left with lead additives is 100 octane aviation fuel for piston engines (not jets). And this is being worked on to be phased out once a satisfactory and safe alternative is found.

      And just to complete my reply : people cause war, not oil. It’s pretty easy to win an war against oil – just go in with a bottle of hot soapy water and you’ll win easily. If you used up all the oil there will still be plenty of things to fight about. The worst fighting spots in the world have no oil at all to fight over. Oil based wars like Iraq are over pretty quickly because fighting holds up the process of making money from oil. Clan based or religion based wars go on for years. Oil also provides a cheap and reliable energy source for billions of people around the world to have a higher standard of living than they otherwise would have. If you look at the amount of good it brings balanced with the few wars it has created, it’s still a net benefit for mankind.

  5. @the kingpin
    memetics are genius subject to metaphysical knowlodge and advance psycho.We dont bother about that . Its genius right. Readers notice why you brought it out and it is out of the context.

    There is really a lake of fire in Mexico but not a subject for air pollution and is accounted to the subject of water pollution and you have another problem in that.

    According the anthropogenic pollutans By Daniel Chiras, Environmental Science (California : Cummings Publishing Co., Inc)
    Carbon Monoxide is produced largely from transportation 70%.
    Fuel combustion at stationary sources 7.5%.
    Industrial processes 7.5%.
    Solid wastes 3%.
    11% Misc.

    About your last comment seems not so logical. You are in denial. Think more
    before you do the wagey.
    People uses oil and as a part of their daily life and practical in sense. I want to say that everything is interconnected. Sarce in oil = high transpo.,high price of goods, directly affect eonomy etc.

    And for the national interest you need to wage some kind of C I A fight plan.
    You might use auto pilot for bombing purpose to save the Institution and rocket insurance while a victim pasanger with a beard in it ( remember 9/11 bombing?).

    On Second thought you really not being logical.
    You think about baby soup and baby oil while the subject is really all about CO.

    About the balance. In my mind balance is in equality and harmony.
    How is it being equal if other party being robed and drain their oil supply?
    The amount of good is worthless if you look at the values of Christian beliefs
    You commit killing. It is written thou shall not kill.
    Many vids and documentary about war in oil. CNN cover much story about that. Dont be patay gutom.

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