Researchers from North Carolina State University report that despite the recent increase in electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) sales, will not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides – even if the trend continues to 2050. But their study assumes that EVs and hybrids will always be powered by fossil fuels, even though renewables are being rapidly implemented not only in the United States, but across the globe.

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“We wanted to see how important EDVs may be over the next 40 years in terms of their ability to reduce emissions,” says Dr. Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new model. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.”

According to the paper, the research team ran 108 different scenarios to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. Their results showed that even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants.

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“There are a number of reasons for this,” DeCarolis says. “In part, it’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place. For example, passenger vehicles make up only 20% of carbon dioxide emissions.”

“From a policy standpoint, this study tells us that it makes more sense to set emissions reductions goals, rather than promoting specific vehicle technologies with the idea that they’ll solve the problem on their own.”

While we agree that we ought to take a multi-pronged approach to emissions reductions, once electric and hybrid vehicles are charged with solar power and other renewables, they will have a much more powerful impact on carbon emissions.

+ North Carolina State University/How Much Do Electric Drive Vehicles Matter To U.S. Emissions?

Via Fast CoExist

Images via Toyota Motor Europe and FaceMePLS

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