Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Do electric cars really help the environment?
President Obama thinks so. So does Leonardo DiCaprio. And many others. The argument goes like this: Regular cars run on gasoline, a fossil fuel
that pumps CO2 straight out of the tailpipe and into the atmosphere. Electric cars run
on electricity. They don’t burn any gasoline at all. No gas; no CO2. In fact, electric
cars are often advertised as creating “zero emissions.” But do they really? Let’s
take a closer look. First, there’s the energy needed to produce
the car. More than a third of the lifetime carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric
car comes from the energy used make the car itself, especially the battery. The mining
of lithium, for instance, is not a green activity. When an electric car rolls off the production
line, it’s already been responsible for more than 25,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide
emission. The amount for making a conventional car: just 16,000 pounds. But that’s not the end of the CO2 emissions.
Because while it’s true that electric cars don’t run on gasoline, they do run on electricity,
which, in the US is often produced by another fossil fuel — coal. As green venture capitalist
Vinod Khosla likes to point out, “Electric cars are coal-powered cars.” The most popular electric car, the Nissan
Leaf, over a 90,000-mile lifetime will emit 31 metric tons of CO2, based on emissions
from its production, its electricity consumption at average U.S. fuel mix and its ultimate
scrapping. A comparable Mercedes CDI A160 over a similar
lifetime will emit just 3 tons more across its production, diesel consumption and ultimate
scrapping. The results are similar for a top-line Tesla, the king of electric cars. It emits
about 44 tons, which is only 5 tons less than a similar Audi A7 Quattro. So throughout the full life of an electric
car, it will emit just three to five tons less CO2. In Europe, on its European Trading
System, it currently costs $7 to cut one ton of CO2. So the entire climate benefit of an
electric car is about $35. Yet the U.S. federal government essentially provides electric car
buyers with a subsidy of up to $7,500. Paying $7,500 for something you could get
for $35 is a very poor deal. And that doesn’t include the billions more in federal and state
grants, loans and tax write-offs that go directly to battery and electric-car makers. The other main benefit from electric cars
is supposed to be lower pollution. But remember Vinod Khosla’s observation “Electric cars
are coal-powered cars.” Yes, it might be powered by coal, proponents
will say, but unlike the regular car, coal plant emissions are far away from the city
centers where most people live and where damage from air pollution is greatest. However, new
research in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that while gasoline cars
pollute closer to home, coal-fired power actually pollutes more — a lot more. How much more? Well, the researchers estimate that if the
U.S. has 10% more gasoline cars in 2020, 870 more people will die each year from the additional
air pollution. If the U.S. has 10% more electric vehicles powered on the average U.S. electricity
mix, 1,617 more people will die every year from the extra pollution. Twice as many. But of course electricity from renewables
like solar and wind creates energy for electric cars without CO2. Won’t the perceived rapid
ramp-up of these renewables make future electric cars much cleaner? Unfortunately, this is
mostly wishful thinking. Today, the U.S. gets 14% of its electric power from renewables.
In 25 years, Obama’s Energy Information Administration estimates that number will
have gone up just 3 percentage points to 17%. Meanwhile, those fossil fuels that generate
65% of U.S. electricity today will still generate about 64% of it in 2040. While electric-car owners may cruise around
feeling virtuous, the reality is that the electric car cuts almost no CO2, costs taxpayers
a fortune, and, surprisingly, generates more air pollution than traditional gasoline cars. I’m Bjørn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen
Consensus Center.

100 thoughts on “Are Electric Cars Really Green?

  1. From an informed layman’s point of view it seems like our best bet right now is to try and make nuclear power safer and more efficient.

  2. The main reason I like the shift towards electric cars is because of the increased versatility. Sure you could use coal to power it. You could also use nuclear, or water, or wind, or solar, or any other method of producing electricity. With gas cars, you just have gas. The switch to electric cars gives us the option to switch to better ways of producing electricity, rather than being stuck with what we got.

  3. Yes. They really are. Not straight off the lot, but only after about year 5 of their life. This used to be about year 8. Within two years this will be reduced to year 3, as tech and methods of production improve. The next gen of batteries could see this reduced to year one. Playing the long game, it isn't even a contest. EV beats ICE hands-down, and the best thing is that savings are passed to the consumer immediately.

  4. Misses the point of useing less fossil fuel. When this video was made solar panels were ok. Now theyre better. Renewable harvesting is getting better. Pesonaly my money is with guys doing already built cars and switching out motors and fuel to electric. While expensive now. The more rich people do this here in the us and abroad it will help drive down the price and soon it could be done in most backyards.

  5. It's amazing how STUPID they are– they think electricity comes from FAIRY-FARTS.
    Elon Musk is a LEECH who just grubs for kickbacks.

  6. This video reveals the inconvenient truth about ignorance of the left. The only clean and reliable source of energy that could make electric cars cleaner is nuclear power. But because it makes sense, the left against it

  7. 1/3 of all shipping is just moving crude oil & Petrol to Various ports !

    A tesla produces 0% nitrous oxide and no PM2.5 ! Thus this video is total baloney. . .

  8. So many facts intentionally omitted…You are using national averages for coal burning electricity generation but fail to recognize EVs are most popular in places that use barely any coal. You completely ignore the damage to the environment and human health that transporting crude oil and burning gasoline causes. And the biggest deception is, you are focusing on co2, which isn't even a pollutant and has very little impact on the environment. Lastly, no matter how dirty the production of electricity is, moving to EVs will centralize the power production in one place, away from school yards, parks and playgrounds. This will also allow us to "green" millions of cars just by upgrading the power plant in the future. That is a huge advantage.

  9. After watching this video, follow it with this one and see what you think. Food for thought.

  10. The deal with electrics is make urban centers less polluted. Although it doesn’t make much difference in a global scale. At least were most of people are concentrated, the air will be better.

  11. And electric cars are a lot faster too. So i’d choose a model S instead of a corvette just because it’s cooler and faster

  12. This isn't as much of an issue in Canada as our energy production is 66% renewable and another 15% comes from nuclear, making a total of 81% of our energy production not coming from fossil fuels. Also, Potholer54 made a pretty good debunking video about this.

  13. Electric cars and hybrids are mainly for the rich to make a public statement of conservation. They trade their car after 2 years, well before any needs for major repairs, and if they actually have major problems, they have another 4 cars at home.Maybe they just go home and take the Benz instead. We need more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I was told, so I don't mind the coal power plants.


  15. You can say what you want but I still prefer the electric option for the future and for the environment.

    Im not leftist or some like that but that's my opinion about this specific topic.

  16. I love watching Prager U videos, but I disagree with this video. Aside for C02, there are other harmful emissions burning fossil fuels. Some are reduced from the catalytic convertor, but still poses a health risk.. My next car will be an electric car (waiting for 2020 when the range is increased).

  17. Well, I got to say the air pollution from a power plant is more likely to be processed into a harmless gas than it from thousands of cars. And that’s the only advantage I can tell from an electric car

  18. How about banning cars inside cities with populations greater than 500,000? Mass transit and bicycles only. Sounds ridiculous, but… Why not stop people from living on one city and working in another, commuting 2 hours twice a day? If you want to work in a town, move there. I'd prefer we went back to the horse and buggy, but then we'd have PETA to deal with.

  19. So what we learned today. Every single rechargable battery is coal powered. Save the planet by using powerbanks instead of plugging your phone on the wall directly. Dude are you serious right now? While you are driving are you polluting the earth? No. You got your anwser.

  20. Electric cars CAN be vocal powered and still emit less than the equivalent gas car. Sadly, there is no option to stop smoke from coming out a gas car, but myriad options with an ev since I don’t have to just use ever-dwindling coal plants. Thank God this video highlights how bad coal is. The renewable use has already topped the predicted use in of17% in many places and the video doesn’t talk about how quickly the change over is accelerating.

  21. Remarkably inadequate and misleading presentation. Next time, please account for the pollution associated with maintenance of vehicles (e.g. manufacture, delivery and disposal of oils, oil filters, air filters, coolants, engine flushes, fuel injectors, etc). In addition to refineries, the pollution from tankers to deliver fuels to service/gas stations and the maintenance of everything to in between too. Finally, nuclear power is cleanest and safest. Yes, safest. WHO estimates 6 million people die from air pollution EACH YEAR. How many have died from nuclear?

  22. We don't need to waste money on electric cars, solar panels or wind turbines that only allow corrupt leftists get rich from taxes
    All we need is technology that will allow us to absorb CO2, such as Carbon Capture plant that will not only clean our atmosphere, but also provide endless supplies of CO2 that can be used for farming and at the same time allow us to extract more fossil fuel for economic growth of our nations.

  23. Best thing you can do is drive your car for as long as possible or better yet a motorcycle, especially if you don't have a passenger.

  24. Skipped right from renewables to coal generated electricity, but most new power plants run on natural gas. Still CO2 but cleaner.

  25. This video Is just full of shit. You are arguing against fossil fuel energy politics and blaming it on e-cars. What a about other countries with better energy production and greener electricity? Renewables, fission? Maybe fusion In the distant future? Homes with sun panels? Electric cars Is the ONLY possible majos transportation way going forward.

  26. The most simplistic view of the world. Rewind 120 years… there are not paved roads, cars need paved roads, horses do not need paved roads. Government does not predict paved roads in the future. Keep your horse.

  27. You neglected the CO2 generated by oil refineries. Also you forgot the billions in government grants the government hands over to big oil. Have you ever seen the Albertan tar sands….I doubt it, cause they sure as hell are not enviro friendly. Potholer 54 was correct in tagging you as a troll sponsored by big oil. You're a sellout.

  28. Why don't you tree huggers put the oil industry out of business by stopping to buy gasoline and park your cars. Use a bicycle as transportation. In other words, lead by example. when you tree huggers start walking. Maybe we conservatives will start walking. AOC want everyone to give up their cars, but guess what. Government officials like her and the elite get to keep their cars and jets. While we peasants get to walk and swim where we need to go. During prohibition of alcohol. Only government officials and the elite had access to alcohol. The same people who made the law to ban alcohol because it was bad for us. Had access to it when they want it. The same thing will happen with this climate change. This is nothing more of a scam for world governments to have control over its citizens like lil Kim in Korea. There are no better or reliable energy like fossil fuels.

  29. Engineering explain did this way better with links to actual data. This video is for people who don't like fact's. You left out a ton of info that he covered. The bottom line is electric cars are not worse for the environment.

  30. Good thing than that CO2 is neither a pollutant nor dangerous. Quite the contrary. Makes the whole video kinda pointless.

  31. I like PragurU but then they make garbage like this video and it upsets me deeply because their agenda is too one sided.

  32. Complete overlooked the drilling up oil, which goes wrong and gives us ecological disasters, and uses power thus creates co2, then a dieselpowered ship comes to transport all this to the refinery, which again spits out a major amount of co2. Then the refinery starts the very powerhungry process of making all its products (co2) and also burns off residue (co2). Then a truck comes to transport it to the gastations (co2). And guess what the pump at the gastation runs on the same electrics as an EV. Thus using coal powered electricity in your case.

    It's very ignorant completely leaving out the above, makes it look like you are very biased about this. Also keep in mind that unlike america the rest big parts of the world are alot further when it comes to making energy in a cleaner way then burning coal or petroleum.

    I'm sorry but you have completely missed the point in this video

  33. This guy is an idiot- no citations, he didn’t even mention that it takes C02 emissions to get gas into gas stations!!!

  34. There's free energy from electricity at this present moment what they don't tell you is that they recycle electricity, they left that bit out, it was a Nicolas Teslas invasion for people to have electricity all around the world wireless too, and also to charge up your electric car on the move wireless for (free) Free is the word Elites hate with a passion, they don't like free people and they give nothing for free unfortunately.

  35. normally pragerU puts forward very good arguments this is not one ! the carbon footprint to produce an electric car is the same as a combustion one, before you add in the batteries the batteries add another 15% above a combustion car, but 70% of the batteries are recycled. Lithium mining is no worse for the ecology of an area than oil extraction

    A normal car emits 5 tons of co2 a year doing average mileage if your electric car is powered by a mix of coal and non fossil fuel electric together with the recycling of the batteries it ends up being the cleaner car after five years of running

    I drive a diesel but my next car will be a hybrid

  36. I agree, cancel coal plants asap. 100% renewables in 10 years is possible. Then production and consumption of electric cars is 100% co2 free. Go for it

  37. A nice calmly spoken well researched, complete with citations rebuttal to this massively irresponsible, horribly inaccurate and totally lacking in citation turd of a video. Nice to find a new channel with actual verifiable and rational content!

    Lets do things like take a study with a petrol car (95% of US cars) and a diesel car (5% of US cars) and then use only the more CO2 friendly diesel and even then completely misrepresent it and not cite the study. Gladly the linked video asked, receive the details on the study used and just followed the facts.

    You know when a youtube channel calls itself a university and its videos courses, uses a lot of hype and has no citation that it is going to create some complete nonsense but this one is truly offensive given it lies to downplay something as positive to an EV. I was on the fence (not sure if they really are green and cheaper) but now I'm buying one for sure thanks Prager for making up my mind. This video just had to produce a good fact checked response and there is was with verifiable science!

  38. First, electric cars don't last just 90k miles. Anyone with common sense realizes what you did there with maths. The higher the mileage the bigger co2 emission saving electric cars will have. Teslas, for example, are shown to run just fine for 500k miles on the original battery. Also they are assuming that cars are scrapped after that which is not the case for EVs. Battery pack, which is responsible for majority of co2, can be reused for less demanding use, like stationary UPS systems. Even after that battery components can be recycled to make new batteries.
    Second, i'd also be glad to see the reference to study that claimed power plants pollute more than ICE cars. I have a slight suspicion that you messed with context there aswell. The proper comparison would be between co2 emissions per energy unit or per mile driven. And as far as i know, EVs destroy ICEs in that regard because of much higher energy conversion efficiency.
    Did you factor in how many oil changes and overall more servicing ICEs will have over their lifetime?
    I'm very disappointed with this video, PragerU. I understand that you have to fight enviromentalist hysteria but please don't go overboard. You're better than them.

  39. Well to be perfectly honest, in my humble opinion, of course without offending anyone who thinks differently from my point of view, but also by looking into this matter in a different perspective and without being condemning of one's view's and by trying to make it objectified, and by considering each and every one's valid opinion, I honestly believe that I completely forgot what I was going to say.

  40. As an energy systems engineer well versed in the relevant literature, I can confirm that this video is not accurate. Much research still needs to be done on EVs and while the embodied energy from producing them is actually closer to twice that of ICE cars, their equivalent lifetime CO2 emissions is 2 – 4 times less. There's plenty of publicly available government reports on this so please, if you're interested, go online and read it.

  41. I agree with the majority of Prageru videos, but the one saying evolution isn't real and this is rather concerning. Especially if your trying to educate young minds. I dont want them to conflate Prageru to those videos.

  42. If we were to embrace nuclear, the proliferation of electric cars would be completely justifiable – but the left doesn't want to hear that :

  43. Who is the GOAT? Ranking History of Top 20 CO2 Emissions per Capita (1800-2018)

  44. This video seems to be biased against EVs. It pre-supposes the worst for EVs while giving all the benefits to gasoline cars. Here is a more balanced analysis

  45. I hate how you deceive people it takes alot if intentional effort to make evs look bad you know you are stop stop misleading people

  46. Odd how, Nikola Tesla, Created a Electric Car with less CO2 than it's current Name Sake. and he invented the worlds 1st electric car in 1903. Hmm. Nikola Tesla, Came out with the way to power the Eletric car Without Solar and Window having ever been invented. Nikola Tesla Saw he future and to Make the Future Better without the use of Coal, Fossil fuel and Nuclear Enegry. Infact Without the use of Modern day power lines, Gas stations, Nuclear Plants and Coal mines, Amazing, Nikola Tesla Was "the MAN" a Complete Gunies. Nikola Tesla Knew Energy from the Earth could be harnessed and reused daily without Modern day Primative Technologies. Tesla Could have launched us into the Future 120 years before we started worrying about the ecosystem.

  47. 5 (science-based) reasons this is super biased information. Guess I'm not surprised given the source.

    1. Something like 1/3 of electricity comes from coal, but I guess that's enough to repeat that EVs are coal-powered. Millions of people in the US have easy access to non-coal electricity, but nevermind about them.

    2. The comparison between gas and electric cars is only over 90k miles. Most cars go farther than that, which would substantially increase the CO2 emission difference, especially since most emissions in EV come from its manufacturing. Also, EV batteries can be reused and placed into homes, for example, which helps increase the capacity of the grid to be cleaner. Good positive feedback cycle there. Also, the paper they cite uses a much higher energy cost in making batteries than other papers. It's complex science and basing your policy ideas on 1 paper is probably a bad idea, unless you have an ideological axe to grind.
    3. What about the paper they cite saying that more people will die due to electric cars than gas cars? If you use only natural gas, 40 people die with EVs (instead of 80 from gas cars). Going to renewable? Maybe 25. It's an argument for scrapping coal, not EVs.

    4. Saying that renewables only will go up to 17% hides that coal is still dropping. That 64% of fossil fuels? Mostly natural gas, which is way better than coal for EVs. No need to wait for 2040.
    5. The biggest outcome from this video seems to be the tax credit. It phases out, though. Teslas already basically don't have it and are still cost competitive and selling like crazy. That same paper they cite showing so many people dying from EVs calculates a reduction of environmental damage of like 50 cents per gallon equivalent for natural gas powered EVs (and like $1 for renewables). That's about $50/year/car. Considering that the tax credit phases out after 200,000 cars, and most car manufacturers make hundreds of thousands of cars a year, how long do you think it will take for this investment to pay off? About 10 years, that's how long.

  48. How about you make more wind turbins and solur penals instead of trying to find fossell fuels like it's 1868

  49. "Electric cars are electric-powered cars". PragerU's analysis is flawed since its entire assumption is based on that electricity is produced from 100% coal and that there are no alternatives to producing electricity. Electric cars solve part of the puzzle. The other part of the puzzle is for electricity producers to switch to greener alternatives. Just because you solve one part of the puzzle, does not mean you have to see it as the glass being half empty. The focus should be to solving the other half of the puzzle. Which is shifting to greener sources of electricity. Furthermore, you could solve the whole puzzle on your own by installing solar panels on your house.

  50. Furthermore, I heard that producing gasoline produces emissions into the environment. Therefore gas does not have an advantage over electricity if that is the case. However, electric cars have an advantage in not releasing emissions while being used compared to combustion/gas cars. If both producing gasoline and burning coal for electricity both release emissions, how could you disregard the emissions from gas production and highlight as a negative when electricity is being used to power cars ?

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