New Study – Private EVs Are Not The Answer To Climate Crisis

In Electric Mobility, Opinions, Products, Sustainability, Technology

It almost seems like owning an electric vehicle (EVs) is a silver bullet in the fight against climate change, but it isn’t. What we should also be focused on is whether anyone should use a private vehicle at all.

But streets filled with battery-powered cars won’t be nearly enough to stop climate change, University of Toronto environmental engineer Alexandre Milovanoff research say so.

Battery EVs, such as the Tesla Model 3 — the best selling EV in Canada in 2020 — have no tailpipe emissions. But they do have higher production and manufacturing emissions than conventional vehicles, and often run on electricity that comes from fossil fuels.

To avoid extreme and irreversible impacts on ecosystems, communities and the overall global economy, we must keep the increase in global average temperatures to less than 2 C — and ideally 1.5 C — above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100.

To achieve this target, 90 per cent of the projected U.S. fleet will have to be electrified by 2050 but theoretically it is possible, but is it desirable?

In order to hit that target, we’d need to very rapidly overcome all the challenges associated with EV adoption, such as range anxiety, the higher purchase cost and availability of charging infrastructure.

What is the solution?

Simply put, there are three ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from passenger transport:

  1. avoid the need to travel,
  2. shift the transportation modes or
  3. improve the technologies.

EVs only tackle one side of the problem, the technological one.


If we truly want to solve our climate problems, we need to deploy EVs along with other measures, such as public transit and active mobility.

This fact is critical, especially given the recent decreases in public transit ridership in the U.S., mostly due to increasing vehicle ownership, low gasoline prices and the advent of ride-hailing (Uber, Lyft).

Governments need to massively invest in public transit, cycling and walking infrastructure to make them larger, safer and more reliable. And we need to reassess our transportation needs and priorities.

Reference- Forbes, The Conversation, LA Times, IEA website, Journal Nature Climate Change

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