The electric car, not so green? The truth about 3 arguments shared on social media

Its impact on climate change, but also other aspects such as mining pollution … Deciphering three statements circulating on social media about electric cars.

Coal electric cars?

A common argument is that these electric cars emit as many greenhouse gases as thermal cars, because the electricity they use is produced by power plants with fossil fuels such as coal.

But according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an electric car charged in St. Louis, Missouri – one of the most coal-dependent states for electricity – produces an average of 247 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per mile (about 154 grams). per kilometer), compared to the 381 grams of a thermal vehicle.

The carbon footprint of an electric car depends on the region or country where it has been recharged: it is higher in countries such as Poland or Asian countries, which produce much of their electricity from coal, than in France, where it depends overwhelmingly on nuclear power.

And when we consider the whole “life cycle” of the electric car, including the production of battery raw materials and even final recycling, thermal cars are still much more emitting in C02 than electric cars, he concluded. the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) expert organization in a large study.

Mining for electric car batteries

Battery manufacturing is a very energy consuming process, partly because some components come from mining and partly because raw materials have to be transported around the world for assembly and sale. Recycling of these components is possible but is still expensive at the moment.

We recycle our devices instead of extracting resources from the mines, the researchers say

According to a post shared on Facebook, 227 tons of earth would have to be dug to extract the metals needed for a single electric car battery. But that estimate seems to come from an analysis published in 2020 by the Manhattan Institute, a skeptical climate research group.

According to several experts consulted by AFP, these figures are misleading. “This is a big exaggerationPeter Newman, a professor of sustainable development at Curtin University in Australia, believes that it all depends on the region of exploration and the type of battery.

Beyond the climate, mining has other negative impacts: 70% of cobalt, one of the components of batteries, comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, where children are mined. Access to components also poses strategic supply problems, many of which come from China, according to the International Energy Agency.

However, oil drilling, considered a real “climate bomb” with its significant environmental impact, is not a better solution, according to Georg Bieker, an ICCT researcher. The risk of global warming caused by greenhouse gases is much greater for humanity, the UN climate experts (IPCC) concluded in their latest report.

In any case, it is clear that the social and environmental impact of global warming is catastrophic and far greater than that of battery mining.“, Says Mr. Bieker.

With an electric car, would we be “stuck in the snow”?

After a snowstorm in Virginia, USA, in January, people shared posts on Facebook claiming that electric cars run the risk of damaging traffic, leaving passengers stranded without heating inside and lengthening the rows of cars again. Various organizations of fact verification (verification of information) tried to verify this statement and found no evidence.

The issue of overconsumption of electric cars when it is cold, however, is debated among experts, some say that thermal cars in the end consume more, because they have to keep the engine running to run the heating.

The British Magazine “Which one?“, tested the battery of an electric SUV simulating a bottleneck situation in summer, with the air conditioning, radio and light on inside, as well as a plugged-in tablet. In these conditions of In summer (and certainly not in winter), the testers only consumed 2% of the battery in an hour and a quarter, the equivalent of 13 km of range.

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