Climate change is not only causing threats to our lives and the environment but it’s also driving major changes in technology. And the rapid growth of electric vehicles is an example of this.

Globally, it’s estimated that around 14% of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation system. It might surprise you to know that 72% of those emissions come from road vehicles!

That’s why electric vehicles seem to be a better alternative for the environment. But the truth is that they can cause some environmental impacts as well. Keep reading to discover their main problems and possible solutions!

Energy Used to Produce the Car

The process of making these vehicles (especially the production of lithium-ion batteries) uses more energy than you would expect. In fact, a large percentage of the lifetime emissions from an electric vehicle comes from this phase!

That’s because they contain rare earth materials that need to be extracted, refined, and transported. And these activities require a lot of electricity.

Plus, it’s important to consider the source of the energy used by the car producers on their sites. Most of the time, the electricity used to manufacture electric vehicles doesn’t come from renewable energy sources.

Since manufacturing the battery requires more energy, making a typical electric vehicle generates the equivalent of 8.8 tonnes of CO2, while the production of a gasoline car generates 5.6 tonnes.

Raw Materials Required to Produce the Battery

As mentioned before, the battery of an electric vehicle is made of rare earth elements, like cobalt, lithium, and nickel. Unfortunately, the extraction of these metals has been linked to serious environmental and human rights concerns.

Remember that mining activities can pollute air and drinking water, cause habitat loss, soil erosion, harm wildlife, and more. But that’s not all, these activities use large amounts of groundwater!

On top of that, these materials tend to come from unregulated mines where miners are underage and work in hazardous conditions.

Energy Source to Power Electric Vehicles

Another factor to consider is where the electricity to charge electric vehicles comes from. Even though these vehicles don’t use gasoline, they do need electricity to function.

The big question is: Does it come from renewable energy sources?

Keep in mind that the same vehicle can release different amounts of greenhouse gas emissions depending on where you charge it.

The reason is simple: While some countries, like Iceland, rely almost entirely on renewable energy sources, others rely on fossil fuels or use a mix of energy sources.

In the United States, for example, more than 60% of its electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, which means electric cars would still release carbon emissions at some distant power plant.

The good news is that electric vehicles are usually more energy-efficient than their fossil fuel-dependent counterparts. So, they tend to generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional cars.

However, much work needs to be done in order to make electric vehicles truly clean for the environment and climate.

Although electric vehicles are an innovative alternative to conventional cars, it’s no secret that they can also cause some problems for the environment.

Don’t miss the second part of this blog post to learn more about these issues: How Green Are Electric Vehicles? (Part 2)



October 02, 2023 — Debby McKnight