Climate change cannot be stopped by increasing the number of electric vehiclesOctober 3, 2020
More than seven million electric vehicles are already on the roads around the world. Ten years ago there were only 20 thousand of them. However, this technological breakthrough, as significant as it may be to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in the long term, will fail to deliver the desired results – preventing climate catastrophe. And that’s exactly what the authors of a new study from the University of Toronto prove.
Governments around the world are betting on electric vehicles to combat climate change. Norway plans to ban sales of internal combustion engines by 2025, the Netherlands by 2030, France, the United Kingdom and Canada by 2040. However, the authors of a new study argue that electric vehicles are necessary but not sufficient to address climate change.
Alexander Milovanov and his team from the University of Toronto conducted a detailed analysis of the consequences of switching to electric vehicles in terms of emissions, writes ZME Science. They chose the United States as a field for research – firstly, because of the proliferation of electric transport, and secondly, because of the availability of data.
Using computer simulations, they estimated the number of electric vehicles it would take to keep the planet’s average annual temperature at 2 ºC above pre-industrial levels by 2100, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.
The results indicated that the United States would need 350 million electric vehicles on the roads by 2050 to achieve this goal. For comparison: now the percentage of EV of the total number of cars in the US is 0.3%.
“Sales, of course, are growing rapidly, but even according to the most optimistic forecasts, the fleet of electric vehicles will not exceed 50% by 2050,” Milovanov said.
In addition to consumer preferences, there are other difficulties in the spread of electric transport. The study found that over 350 million EVs would increase annual electricity consumption by 41%. This will require large investments in charging infrastructure, energy storage systems and the construction of new power plants.
For this reason, scientists conclude that the appearance of so many electric vehicles on the roads by 2050 is impossible. Instead, they recommend introducing laws to encourage the transition from personal vehicles to other forms of travel. This means that significant investments in public transport and urban redevelopment will be required to provide more opportunities for pedestrians and cyclists.
The only suitable form of transport for the United States was seen by researchers last year in the Hyperloop vacuum train system. In a multi-page document, they argue that the benefits of a vacuum train far outweigh the risks and drawbacks of the new system, both in economic and environmental terms.
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