China’s Electric Vehicles Run on Coal! Yes, But …

20 Sep 2017   China, Electric Cars

China’s offhand bombshell about potentially consigning gasoline-fueled cars to the scrapheap has met, predictably, with a round of cheers and jeers . This is about one of the latter, which concerns the chart below: With coal dominating China’s electricity generation, a common refrain about electric vehicles is: What’s the point? A car fed by a wire stretching back to a coalmine doesn’t seem like much of an improvement over a gasoline pump. It’s a legitimate point. But it risks obscuring a different, more fundamental point. The question here is whether or not an electric vehicle truly results in less greenhouse-gas emissions than a traditional one with an internal combustion engine. This doesn’t just encompass how the vehicles use their energy, but also where that energy comes from and how the vehicles get built in the first place — what are sometimes called “life-cycle” emissions. The math around emissions of […]

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