How do electric vehicles contribute to reducing carbon emissions and what are the key benefits they offer compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles?

by Vajiram & Ravi

The question “The adoption of electric vehicles is rapidly growing worldwide. How do electric vehicles contribute to reducing carbon emissions and what are the key benefits they offer compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles?" was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 3. Let us look at the model answer to this question.

Answer: Electric vehicles (EVs) are an important part of meeting global goals on climate change. They feature prominently in mitigation pathways that limit warming to well-below 2C or 1.5C, which would be inline with the Paris Agreement’s targets.

The role of electric vehicles in reducing carbon emissions and combating climate change

  • Lower greenhouse gas emission: Unlike conventional gasoline or diesel-powered vehicles, EVs produce lower or zero tailpipe emissions, thereby mitigating climate change.
  • Lower Lifecycle Emissions: Over their lifetime, EVs emit considerably less carbon dioxide compared to conventional vehicles. Even when considering the emissions from electricity generation, the average EV produces far less emissions over its lifetime than a conventional vehicle.
  • Help in the transition to renewable energy: The environmental benefits of electric vehicles are further amplified by the transition to renewable energy sources. As the electricity grid becomes cleaner, with a growing share of wind, solar, and other renewable sources, the carbon footprint of EVs decreases significantly.
  • Energy efficiency: Electric vehicles are known for their superior energy efficiency compared to internal combustion engine vehicles. Electric motors boast high-energy conversion rates, typically exceeding 90%, while combustion engines struggle with lower efficiency levels.
  • Air quality improvement: One of the immediate benefits of electric vehicles is their positive impact on air quality, particularly in densely populated urban areas. By producing zero tailpipe emissions, EVs help alleviate the problem of local pollution, which poses significant health risks.

Benefits offer by electric vehicles as compared to traditional combustion engine vehicles

  • Lower carbon emission: EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles.
  • Can Lower the import of crude oil: India depends on imports for approximately 85% of its domestic oil consumption, and spends a third of its total import values on crude oil alone.If electric vehicles occupy 30% share in new vehicle sales by 2030, India’s India’s oil import bills could reduce by 15% by around INR 1.1 lakh crores in 2030 alone.
  • Smooth and Quiet Operation: EVs are well known for running smoothly and silently. As they use an electric engine instead of an exhaust system, they naturally operate with less noise pollution, whilst also having a smoother acceleration and deceleration.
  • Lower Operating Costs: It is predicted that consumers will spend less on operational expenses for EVs, such as paying for electricity and repair/maintenance
  • Better Handling and Comfort: Their lower centre of gravity provides better handling, comfort, and responsiveness.

Electric vehicles have emerged as a powerful tool in the global fight against carbon emissions and climate change. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, leveraging renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and enhancing air quality, EVs are revolutionising the transportation landscape.

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