US & Global CO2 Emissions

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US & Global CO2 Emissions

This research provides an analysis of the contribution of ground transportation toward the global and US CO2 emissions. This research further analyzes the use of electric vehicles (EVs) as an alternative to reduce the pollution. The CO2 emissions that result from the entire life cycle of an EV should be minimal in order to justify it as an alternative to fossil-fuelled vehicles.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Life Cycle Analysis

  • When determining whether the electric vehicle is a better alternative to fossil-fuelled cars for the environment, it is essential that a side-by-side comparison is conducted. This analysis compares the emission life cycle of a fuel car and an EV through three stages; manufacturing, use, and recycling. These phases are referred to as the cradle-to-gate, the well-to-wheel, and the grave-to-cradle.
  • This analysis considers the emission of carbon dioxide through the various stages. Although it may seem that an electric car is better than a fuel car, it is important to understand that the three stages require different processes, which would still impact the environment.
  • The recycling phase results in higher emissions from the EV when compared to their petrol counterparts. The main cause for this is the emission resulting form recycling the battery.
  • Research conducted in different countries/regions bears different findings. For example, in New Zealand, the carbon footprint of EVs is 62% better.
  • Looking at the overall result of the life cycle, carbon emissions from EVs are much less than fossil-fuelled cars, making them a cleaner and greener alternative. Statistics show that it would be 18% lower.
  • The entire life cycle of an EV demonstrates substantial CO2 emissions: Sourcing for the raw materials, dismantling deteriorated batteries, building the cars, and eventually delivering them to clients. Although the emission count may be reduced, it is impossible to eliminate it completely.

Manufacturing

  • The manufacturing phase of an EV results in a higher CO2 emissions in comparison to fossil-fuelled cars. EVs run on a lithium-ion battery as their major source of power. In order to get lithium, the mining process has an adverse effect on the ecosystem as it requires extensive amounts of water. It may also result in aquifer depletion.
  • Mining for lithium has also increased significantly as various gadgets such as laptops and mobile phones, heavily rely on it. It has seen a 58% increase within the past ten years.
  • The extraction of essential metals such as lithium and cobalt has had a significant impact on the emission count of the manufacturing phase of an EV.

Electric Source

  • New Zealand is an ideal location for EVs because most of its power source is from renewable energy. For this reason, electrical recharge has a minimal impact on the environment.
  • In countries that rely on coal as their major source of power, the use of electric vehicles is not a viable option in reducing carbon emissions. The emission is not significantly less than cars that rely on fuel.

Driving

  • Tailpipe emissions of conventional vehicles are the highest source of CO2 emissions in the car's life cycle. This occurs during the "use" stage. For an electric car, this emission is zero.
  • In countries like Sweden and France, using an EV reduces emissions by 70%, as most of the power source is from renewable energy sources and nuclear. The same data point for the UK is 30%.
  • Although driving EVs reduces emissions, it does not reduce the physical congestion on the road. In fact, it contributes to the already crowded cities.

US Annual CO2 Emissions

Global Annual CO2 Emissions

  • The global transportation sector produces 7.866 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions.
  • The global power sector is gradually reducing its CO2 emissions as alternative power sources are gaining popularity. Renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar have slightly contributed in the drops that are being noted in developed economies.
  • Transportation makes up for 14% of the global GHG. Ground transportation is the major contributor, followed by air transportation, and then water.

Research Strategy

Our research team was unable to find the breakdown of the CO2 emissions data by ground transportation type. This data was unavailable for both the US and global sections. We searched through various publications and reports from environmental groups, scientific reporting, and media sites. Our thorough analysis was able to provide some insights into both sections and insights into the EV alternatives.
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