Does driving an electric car help decarbonize the economy?

Electric car

Here is an example of the sort of learning I mentioned in my previous post that can help me make good decisions regarding how I try to minimize my negative impact on the earth: Does driving an electric car help decarbonize the economy?

What is interesting about this is it shows that even in a country like New Zealand with 90% renewable electricity generation, the environmental cost of switching to an electric car is probably not any better than waiting until our existing petrol car reaches the end of its useful life. Using what we already have efficiently is better than switching to a newer green’ substitute.

manufacturing electric cars requires more aluminum (to limit the additional weight of the batteries), more copper (for the electrical system), and more lithium and rare-earth elements than a conventional car. Producing these materials in a worldwide economy emits more greenhouse gases than the production of steel and iron for conventional cars.

Obviously if my current car dies and cannot be repaired, switching to an electric car that will transport me at least 50,000 km would make good sense. At the 50,000 km mark the electric car will tip over the line of reducing my carbon footprint.

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