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Drive an electric vehicle and reduce air pollution

In his fifth column on electric vehicles, Daniel Butler-Hawkes, Energy Solutions Manager at Jersey Electricity, examines the environmental benefits of battery-powered transportation.

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HAVING reviewed the practical and financial benefits of electric vehicles in the previous columns, we can turn our attention to the environmental benefits they bring.

In 2020, Jersey became a signatory, via the United Kingdom, to the Paris Agreement and the International Convention on Climate Change.

As a result, the island has committed to an ambitious carbon reduction target of 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035 – two key milestones on the way to the overall goal of achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

While achieving these goals will not be easy, such an outcome is clearly aligned with Jersey Electricity’s vision of a carbon-free future.

To achieve net zero by 2050, the government’s carbon neutral roadmap, adopted in April 2022, sets out several transport-related policies.

This is not surprising, as the roadmap identifies transport as the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 36%.

The roadmap highlights the importance of:

But why are electric vehicles considered such an important part of this strategy and are they really better for the environment than traditional petrol and diesel cars?

According to a study published by EDF Energy, the main advantage of electric vehicles is their contribution to air quality. As they have no exhaust pipe, they do not emit carbon dioxide, which greatly reduces air pollution.

On this basis, an EV can save an average of 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent of four return flights between London and Barcelona.

And it’s not just air pollution that electric vehicles can help combat. Much quieter than petrol and diesel vehicles, they also have a positive impact on noise pollution.

While these benefits are undeniable, many people still wonder about the impact of electric vehicle production on the environment. It is true that a lot of energy goes into their production, mainly due to the processes involved in the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries.

However, a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed that “more than a third of an electric car’s lifetime CO² emissions come from the energy used to manufacture the car itself”. For this reason, electric vehicles remain a greener option overall, with the European Energy Agency finding that even when the electricity needed to charge vehicles is taken into account, carbon emissions from an electric vehicle are always between 17% and 30% lower than those associated with a petrol and diesel car.

And, because Jersey Electricity uses low-carbon electricity, those emissions are further reduced.

Collectively, we are becoming more aware of our carbon footprint. By choosing electric vehicles, we can have a significant impact.