01 Feb 2024, 13:39
Franca Quecke

German environment agency report affirms climate advantage of today's EVs

Clean Energy Wire

Today's electric cars already have a lower lifecycle climate footprint than combustion engine cars, and by 2050, EVs will also perform better in other environmental categories such as particulate matter pollution, rain acidification and ozone depletion, shows a report by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu), commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA). An average compact EV registered in 2020 is around 40 percent more climate-friendly than combustion engine cars, said UBA in a press release. With a rapid expansion of renewable electricity generation, this climate benefit could increase to 55 percent for cars registered in 2030, the report found.

Ifeu examined the environmental and climate impacts of passenger cars and commercial vehicles with conventional and alternative drive systems based on the entire vehicle lifecycle, from production to use and disposal. It showed that EVs registered in 2020 fared worse regarding other environmental effects like acidification. The environment agency said that these disadvantages are largely due to fossil fuel power generation, which is being phased out. "In 2050, electric cars will be ahead of cars with combustion engines in all the environmental impacts analysed," said UBA.

Electric vehicles are considered a key component in achieving Germany’s climate targets, and the government is aiming for 15 million electric cars on roads by 2030. “In order to make their purchase more attractive, cars with higher CO2 emissions should be subject to a surcharge on new registrations in future,” said UBA head Dirk Messner, arguing that it is the only way to still achieve the government's goals. The ambitious target looks increasingly difficult to hit in view of declining sales. Industry experts also remain sceptical, predicting 11 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2030, with 13 million an optimistic estimation. The German government abruptly ended its electric car subsidy programme at the end of 2023 in the wake of an agreement on savings to overcome the budget crisis.

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