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Electric cars are better for the environment in vast majority of the world, study finds

Experts cite the reduction in carbon emissions as a huge benefit

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With consumers gaining interest in electric cars, experts are now looking into the environmental benefits. 

Researchers from the University of Exeter have found that despite fears surrounding the environmental impact of electric cars, the climate in 95 percent of the world would benefit from the switch. 

“We started this work a few years ago, and policy-makers in the U.K. and abroad have shown a lot of interest in the results,” said Dr. Jean-Francois Mercure. “The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil-fuel alternatives.” 

Environmental impacts

The study focused on emissions from different kinds of cars and home heating options to better understand what kind of an impact these things have on the environment. 

The researchers utilized technology that allowed them to assess current emissions levels while modeling how they could change if electric vehicles became more widely used. They also divided the world into nearly 60 different regions in an effort to see where these changes would be the most effective. 

The researchers found that electric cars were already outperforming gas-powered vehicles from an environmental perspective in 95 percent of the world, and electric heating in homes had similar environmental benefits. 

They explained that the regions they analyzed -- which included the U.S., Europe, and China -- are hotspots for travel and heating needs. Emissions reductions in these areas would yield drastic environmental improvements. 

Electric energy myths

Because of this widespread reduction in emissions, the researchers are encouraging consumers to make the switch to electric vehicles and electric heating methods for their homes. They argue that any disparaging news surrounding electric cars should be ignored, as their work conclusively found otherwise. 

“In other words, the idea that electric vehicles or electric heat pumps could increase emissions is essentially a myth. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about this recently, with lots of disinformation going around. Here is a definitive study that can dispel those myths,” said Dr. Florian Knobloch.

“We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars and heating systems. Even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases. This insight should be very useful for policymakers.”

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