From materials and batteries to manufacturing, calculating the real carbon cost of EVs is just getting started
Investors and politicians embracing a vision of an all-electric car future believe that path will significantly reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. That’s far from clear.
A growing body of research points to the likelihood that widespread replacement of conventional cars with EVs would likely have a relatively small impact on global emissions. And it’s even possible that the outcome would increase emissions.
The issue is not primarily about the emissions resulting from producing electricity. Instead, it’s what we know and don’t know about what happens before an EV is delivered to a customer, namely, the “embodied” emissions arising from the labyrinthine supply chains to obtain and process all the materials needed to fabricate batteries.
Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; a partner in Cottonwood Venture Partners, an energy-tech venture fund.
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