Electric cars that run on coal

Climate Central: The world must move quickly to make electric vehicles more climate-friendly, or the world may not be able to meet its climate goals.

That’s the conclusion of a University of Toronto paper published in the March edition of Nature Climate Change, which argues that countries need to reduce the carbon intensity of their electric power supply in order to make electric transportation systems and other infrastructure an effective strategy for combating climate change.

Think about it this way: Every Nissan Leaf might run on electric power, but how that electricity was generated determines what greenhouse gas emissions the car is responsible for. If the car is charged on solar or geothermal power, the carbon footprint may be miniscule. If it’s charged on electricity generated using coal, it might prove as bad or worse for the climate than burning gasoline. (Climate Central created a road map for climate-friendly cars in 2013 showing where driving electric vehicles is most climate friendly in the U.S.)

The University of Toronto paper establishes an emissions threshold to help governments and consumers better understand whether it helps the climate to push for electric cars and the electrification of other modes of transportation based on the carbon intensity of the electricity those vehicles use. [Continue reading…]

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