Across the world, more and more people are opting for electric vehicles and the industry is undeniably on the rise. However, as electric cars grow in popularity, concerns over their environmental impact arise.
One of the biggest challenges facing cities is their carbon emissions from transportation. A report from the Institute for Transportation Development Policy (ITDP) and the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) says that electric cars on their own won’t save us – the only way we can keep under 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is a combination of electrification and increased urban density. Researchers say electric vehicles need to be combined with an effort to make cities bikeable and walkable to curb climate change.
In its report, The Compact City Scenario -Electrified states that the electrification of the vehicle fleet alone will not be enough to achieve the objectives set. Heather Thompson, CEO of the Institute, which released the study said that “We need electrification, but we will not meet our 1.5°C target if we focus on electric vehicles alone. We need to also focus on the fundamental equation of driving less, even if in electric vehicles, which still require a lot of resources like clean electricity. We need high-density development that provides better access to employment, education, and services for families of all income levels without being dependent on cars. Walkable and cycling cities aren’t just better for the economy and the environment – they’re healthier and happier for everyone. We have the evidence, and we know what needs to be done: we need an integrated approach that includes both electrification and compact development. Cities must step up.”
“We absolutely need to get fossil fuels out, but that will only take us so far,” Thompson added. “We need to develop cities in compact ways, to make sure people don’t need to get behind the wheel.”
The world needs to wean itself off fossil fuels that are destroying the climate. EVs have a lower carbon footprint over their lifetime than cars or trucks that use internal combustion engines. However, some experts believe that greenhouse emissions during the manufacturing process and battery-charging have to be considered. For example, the batteries in electric vehicles are charged with power from the electric grid – which is often powered by fossil fuels. In addition, there is concern over how energy-intensive it is to build an EV or an EV battery compared to a traditional vehicle.