An in-depth study found that, contrary to widespread belief, zero-emissions vehicles actually increase the amount of pollution that is emitted into the atmosphere.
The Manhattan Institute published “Short Circuit: The High Cost of Electric Vehicle Subsidies,” a report that analyzes the cost of electric automobiles and their effectiveness to clean the environment. Jonathan Lesser, the president of Continental Economics and author of the study, which was published Tuesday, collected various data to estimate the overall impact of such vehicles.
Referencing the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Lesser forecasted the number of new electric cars through 2050. He also estimated the amount of electricity they’d consume and how much pollution that electricity would create. He then compared this data to the amount of emissions new gasoline-powered vehicles would create. The findings: electric vehicles increase the amount of pollution into the atmosphere compared to new internal combustion vehicles.
There are two major causes, Lesser said, for the rampant misconception of EVs and their effect on the environment: incorrect comparisons and a lack of awareness about the amount of electricity EVs consume.
“The appropriate comparison … isn’t the difference between an electric vehicle and an old gas-guzzler; it’s the difference between an electric car and a new gas car. And new internal combustion engines are really clean,” Lesser wrote Tuesday in a Politico article about his findings. “Today’s vehicles emit only about 1 percent of the pollution than they did in the 1960s, and new innovations continue to improve those engines’ efficiency and cleanliness.”
The 32-page report noted that people tend to ignore how electricity — what EVs run on — is made. While the U.S. is making strides toward renewable energy, it is still largely dependent on natural gas and coal for the production of electricity. This ultimately means EVs are largely dependent on fossil fuels to operate. The study found that if EVs were replaced with new internal combustion vehicles, the amount of pollution in the air would actually decrease. (RELATED: Renewable Energy Use In Europe Didn’t Stop Carbon Emissions From Rising)
The study did, in fact, find that EVs decrease the amount of CO2 compared to new internal combustion vehicles. However, the benefit is so minuscule it’s rendered meaningless. “[T]he net reduction in CO2emissions between 2018 and 2050 would be only about one-half of one percent of total forecast U.S. energy-related carbon emissions. Such a small change will have no impact whatsoever on climate, and thus have no economic benefit,” Lesser explained further in his Tuesday report.
Beyond the environmental impacts, the study concluded that government policies meant to boost EV sales ultimately benefit the rich at the expense of the poor.
High-income earners make up the bulk of electric vehicle purchases in the U.S. However, poorer individuals cannot afford such vehicles, even at subsidized rates. This situation results in the rich enjoying slightly cheaper EVs off the backs of everyone who is forced to pay taxes and higher electricity rates.
“Wealthy consumers who have purchased Teslas and Chevy Bolts primarily to signal their green bona fides for their friends and neighbors, and who have socialized many of the costs of their purchases to those who are less well-off, might wish to take a closer look at the numbers,” Lesser wrote. “Their hands may not be quite so clean as they believe.”
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