Electric cars might cause as much or more pollution than conventional gas vehicles, according to researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
According to a study published in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, “the production phase of electric vehicles proved substantially more environmentally intensive” than the production process for traditional gas-powered cars.
Specifically, the study found that electric car factories can emit more toxic waste than gas-burning car factories. And greenhouse gas emissions rise exponentially if coal is used to produce the electricity necessary to charge “green” vehicles, according to the study.
The researchers compared the overall life-cycle impact of petrol or diesel-powered cars and electric vehicles and concluded that the latter can significantly damage the climate.
“The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles,” the report said. “It is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles in regions where electricity is primarily produced from lignite, coal or even heavy oil combustion.”
Batteries and electric motors are composed of minerals like nickel, copper and aluminum, which are toxic.
The authors of the study acknowledged, however, that “a more significant reduction in global warming could potentially be achieved by increasing fuel efficiency or shifting from petrol to diesel.”