Are Electric Cars Really Green?

Do electric cars really help the environment?
President Obama thinks so.
So does Leonardo DiCaprio. And many others.
The argument goes like this:
Regular cars run on gasoline, a fossil fuel
that pumps CO2 straight out of the tailpipe
and into the atmosphere. Electric cars run
on electricity. They don’t burn any gasoline at all.
No gas; no CO2. In fact, electric
cars are often advertised as creating “zero emissions.”
But do they really? Let’s
take a closer look.
First, there’s the energy needed to produce
the car. More than a third of the lifetime
carbon-dioxide emissions from an electric
car comes from the energy used make the car
itself, especially the battery. The mining
of lithium, for instance, is not a green activity.
When an electric car rolls off the production
line, it’s already been responsible for
more than 25,000 pounds of carbon-dioxide
emission. The amount for making a conventional car:
just 16,000 pounds.
But that’s not the end of the CO2 emissions.
Because while it’s true that electric cars
don’t run on gasoline, they do run on electricity,
which, in the US is often produced by another
fossil fuel — coal. As green venture capitalist
Vinod Khosla likes to point out,
“Electric cars are coal-powered cars.”
The most popular electric car, the Nissan
Leaf, over a 90,000-mile lifetime will emit
31 metric tons of CO2, based on emissions
from its production, its electricity consumption
at average U.S. fuel mix and its ultimate
A comparable Mercedes CDI A160 over a similar
lifetime will emit just 3 tons more across
its production, diesel consumption and ultimate
scrapping. The results are similar for a top-line
Tesla, the king of electric cars. It emits
about 44 tons, which is only 5 tons less
than a similar Audi A7 Quattro.
So throughout the full life of an electric
car, it will emit just three to five tons less CO2.
In Europe, on its European Trading
System, it currently costs $7 to cut one ton of CO2.
So the entire climate benefit of an
electric car is about $35. Yet the U.S. federal
government essentially provides electric car
buyers with a subsidy of up to $7,500.
Paying $7,500 for something you could get
for $35 is a very poor deal. And that doesn’t
include the billions more in federal and state
grants, loans and tax write-offs that go directly
to battery and electric-car makers.
The other main benefit from electric cars
is supposed to be lower pollution.
But remember Vinod Khosla’s observation “Electric cars
are coal-powered cars.”
Yes, it might be powered by coal, proponents
will say, but unlike the regular car,
coal plant emissions are far away from the city
centers where most people live and where damage
from air pollution is greatest. However, new
research in Proceedings of the National Academy
of Sciences found that while gasoline cars
pollute closer to home, coal-fired power actually
pollutes more — a lot more. How much more?
Well, the researchers estimate that if the
U.S. has 10% more gasoline cars in 2020, 870
more people will die each year from the additional
air pollution. If the U.S. has 10% more electric
vehicles powered on the average U.S. electricity
mix, 1,617 more people will die every year
from the extra pollution. Twice as many.
But of course electricity from renewables
like solar and wind creates energy for electric
cars without CO2. Won’t the perceived rapid
ramp-up of these renewables make future electric
cars much cleaner? Unfortunately, this is
mostly wishful thinking. Today, the U.S. gets
14% of its electric power from renewables.
In 25 years, Obama’s Energy Information
Administration estimates that number will
have gone up just 3 percentage points to 17%.
Meanwhile, those fossil fuels that generate
65% of U.S. electricity today will still generate
about 64% of it in 2040.
While electric-car owners may cruise around
feeling virtuous, the reality is that the
electric car cuts almost no CO2, costs taxpayers
a fortune, and, surprisingly, generates more
air pollution than traditional gasoline cars.
I’m Bjørn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen
Consensus Center.

100 Replies to “Are Electric Cars Really Green?”

  1. Serial hybrid with opposed piston engine is the solution – the most effective and feasible powertrain layout right now

  2. Well done, but for example Tesla supercharger run 100% renewable energy and also the production emissions are only so high because the energy often comes from non renewable sources. This is possible to change while its impossible to reduce the emission of fossil fuels.. Great video but unfortunately you miss some important points

  3. The goal is to shift to solar, wind and hydroelectric power. There is progress to be made from being just slightly cleaner than traditional gasoline cars to vastly cleaner. Do more thorough research!

  4. When the life span of the electric cars Lithium batteries come to an end, will their disposal create more environmental pollution?
    How much more?
    How are we going to deal with it?

  5. I’ll take your word for it on the lifetime comparison statistics, but you are not taking into account the technology benefits of pushing electric cars forward through financial incentives. In order for the commercial sector to invest in the development of alternative fuels that are truely beneficial, a technological transition period is required. Government intervention and subsidies help to mitigate the commercial risk during that transition period, and are therefore essential.

  6. As a lifelong environmentalist, I no longer care about minimizing my own co2 'output'. The world is breeding and bringing first world tech to every corner of the earth. That's the real cause of co2 increase and any fool should be able to see that.

  7. GIVE ME A BREAK! I normally really like Dennis’ videos but this video has a lot of crap. I am not a tree hugger nor a climate change cultist but my Tesla Model S ROCKS! Please do a video of all the taxpayer money that had been paid out to GM and such over the years – BTW: I own a Yukon XL too. Our Tesla is a way better car than our GM.

  8. Regular cars r better than electric cars bc regular cars run on oil and gasoline where as electric cars run on coal which is worse

  9. When you look at the real science behind it it makes you realise he Environmental took out the back of their house but then again this is what you expect from socialist and globalists

  10. I wish AOC, would stop acting like an uninformed, socialist bartender and educate herself with the facts that are presented in this video.

  11. PragerU: "Electric cars aren't green because they might use coal in their energy mix!"
    Also PragerU: "Coal mining is f***ing awesome! Lets have some more of that!"

    Not that it means anything really, it's just funny to see the contradictions that this whore of a channel spits out. I guess the oil barons paid a little bit more money for this video than the coal barons this time.

  12. Electric cars could also be nuclear, wind, diesel and solar powered. If I’m not mistaking, a electric motor is about 2,8x more efficient than an “otto” so regardless of how an electric car is charged and its production co2 foot prints, it will be cheaper to use than the petrol.

  13. Just watch this video
    to know every wrong fact mentioned by PragerU

  14. A single cruise ship can emit as much particulate matter pollution as a million cars. Some cruise ships are more polluting than entire cities. … And they want me to scrap my 21-year-old Merc. I can't afford to go on cruises, so they can get stuffed, I'll be keeping the Merc 🙂

  15. You forgot to mention that electric cars are heavier which translates to higher needs for repairing roads, but also that they rip up more pollution from the tarmac.

  16. If you want a much more comprehensive, balanced analysis of current EV tech go to youtube search and type in "Are Electric Cars Worse For The Environment? Myth Busted".

  17. You keep saying CO2, yet that isn't the issue. It's the other greenhouse gasses. Sorry you leave out important information, it clearly shows bias and attempts to deceive.

  18. They aren't zero emission but they are better for the environment then gas cars because al though with the electric power plants a such, those can create more greenhouse gas emissions then a gas car, you aren't talking into consideration where gas comes from and the very unenvironment friendly way we get gas from the ground

  19. I have solar power and two Tesla batteries I am completely off the grid so recharging my car cost zero. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  20. Lithium, which is used in the production of electric vehicle batteries, is a rare earth element and there's only a limited amount available in quantities large enough to make it econonically feasible to mine and extract. Not only are electric vehicles very expensive (even with the included tax subsidy discount) they also produce almost the same amount of carbon emissions, in the production and recharging process over their lifespan, compared to a traditional gasoline vehicle as the video vividly demonstrates. On the other hand, hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles in my opinion will be the future mode of transportation and hydrogen itself is the most abundant element in the universe. So essentially there is an unlimited supply of hydrogen to power this future mode of transportation. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles produce no carbon dioxide and recently there have been several technological breakthroughs which will allow a significant reduction in the cost to produce and maintain them. In fact China is now in the process of switching their focus from electric to hydrogen powered vehicles. China also believes hydrogen powered vehicles will be the main mode of transportation going forward. Electric vehicles will still be produced in the coming years but they will eventually be overtaken by hydrogen powered vehicles in my opinion. And once that happens I think electric vehicles will slowly be fazed out over time and production will eventually be halted altogether at some point. Hopefully it will happen before the earth's limited supply of lithium is completely used up. Consumers and scientists and many manufacturers still need lithium for various other uses and so getting rid of electric vehicle lithium-ion batteries will help to preserve the limited supply of lithium currently available.

  21. Here's the problem with this entire argument, CO2 is not a pollutant. Any discussion of taxing based on CO2 is insane, it's the most important fuel to feed our ecosystem.

  22. CALIFORNIA gets most of it's electricity from wind, solar, geothermal and just about every other source over coal. This is a highly manipulative video with NO SOURCES CITED. At the very beginning of the post, they mention Obama to force you to agree with them before you even know what they're going to say. Do your research people. This is all the workings of a manipulative organization. Many truths but NO truth.

  23. The idea of electrical is a long term plan.
    For example eventually we'll hopefully be primarily using nuclear energy or even other forms. As the cars become more efficient that will also become a big deal.

    A gas powered car will have the exact same production pollution cost so this all becomes negligible.

  24. Interesting. But how do you react to this, then? :

    It completely contradicts what you claim.

  25. Me I doubt that electric cars are the future its cool but the cars we got now that do run on gas don't have to run on gas some people convert there cars to run off moonshine/h2o/ and natural gas we can make our own oil (synthetic oil) and diesel engines can run on cooking oil so and not everyone wants a electric car just change what we run our cars on the electric car factorys polute more than you can imagine so if you own a electric car your not really saving the environment I have the idea of making eso (environment safe oil) basically you can pour it on the ground and it won't kill the plants around it would it take off ? Or whould it fail ?

  26. I prefer gas powered cars. Electric cars are over priced and range is an issue. If I run out of fuel, I just stop at a gas station and fill up. With an electric car, I might have to call a tow truck and be stuck waiting for 4-8 hours for the battery to charge.

  27. I'm in British Columbia, Canada. We are 96% Hydro, not coal. Maybe you yanks should consider that the problem isn't the electric car, but the coal power plants themselves? Duh….

    And lithium batteries are recyclable. You mine them once and that's it. Much like anything metal from the ground.

    What this fool says at the end is that America is too useless to more forward in green technological power production….something Europe and China has no issues doing within less than a decade. Sucks to be living in a stagnant society, while the rest of the world blows past them in advanced power production.

    BTW, if you factor in subsidies (free taxpayer money) to oil companies, and the cost of the US military to take over and maintain foreign oil fields…gasoline in the US is closer to $6/ Gallon or more.

  28. I actually liked Prager until I just watched this. WOW what a shill for the oil companies. Lets come up with cleaner ways to power the electric vehicles, not demonize them, because we all know gas is not the solution and never will be !!

  29. … or nuclear… which is the WORSE type of power for the planet.  We will eventually start learning this as the waste builds up… and 50,000 + years of generations will have to deal with this problem.

  30. Your talking LOGIC… not something the new green generation understands… they see no smoke so they assume it green. If they think the previous generations screwed up, wait to see what their children think of their decisions… if there are further generations  🙁

  31. This is one of the topics I disagree with the right wing, this is just being blind and just trying to disagree with leftists in everything. Electric cars helps, renewal energies should be our goal, green new deal is a stupid Utopia though

  32. This video really says that the US is kinda retarded when it comes to the production of electricity. Find a better way to produce electricity. Simple. – "Mining for lithium is not a green thing" – oh, but drilling for oil in the arctic is?

  33. And what if most of your electricity like that in Iceland, is coming from renewable sources (geothermal for Iceland)? Will you still call electric car a coal-powered car?

  34. Many many assumptions in this video which are spun to try to make gasoline cars look better.
    1) He’s using a 90,000 mile lifetime in this comparison. Why? Because that way the initial cost of mining the battery minerals can bring the electric car closer to the gas car. Think about it, why this arbitrary number? This is a major error in this video and shows how biased and disingenuous it is. The average Tesla battery pack will last 200,000 miles, not 90,000. It won’t be “scrapped” as he said at 90,000 miles. So that initial cost in CO2 to mine that lithium gets spread far longer than he’s telling you here. And the total CO2 cost difference between the Tesla and the gas powered car would be greater in the electric car’s advantage.

    2) Scrapping an electric car means recycling the minerals in the battery. Once the CO2 was used to pull those minerals out of the ground, those minerals can be recycled over and over, you now have that lithium. But once you pump the refined oil into a gas powered car, its immediately destroyed and lost forever. This wasn’t mentioned either. Also, this video wants you to believe that the whole battery in a car is lithium, and dirty lithium production is all it speaks of. The truth is that lithium is only about 5-8% of a modern electric car battery. Another fact that isn’t mentioned here.

    3) The costs of extracting, trucking, piping, and refining the oil into gasoline is conveniently missing. This is a HUGE omission in order to bias the numbers.
    Why didn’t this video tell us how much cost in CO2 was used to produce and distribute the gasoline which gets burned immediately in the car’s use and all that extraction and refining effort is lost, again, while the minerals in a battery are recyclable. So the electric car will use far less over its “lifetime” than this video is claiming and these sorts of computations are actually very difficult to do properly. Without the CO2 numbers involved in extracting oil, pumping and shipping oil, and then refining, and shipping again to the gas station, the entire point of this video is invalid and cannot be trusted. Imagine how much CO2 is used in shipping that oil across the ocean, then trucking it all over the country, only to be burned and lost forever.

    4) And this might be the best one…. electric power plants do not shut down at night when there’s less electricity demand. It’s too expensive to shut down, so they keep running and that’s why electricity rates at night are less than during the day, often the electricity is free at night. They need this power used up off the grid because there’s no where to put it (except during heatwaves where everyone’s AC is running all night). That’s when most electric cars are doing most of their charging (or should be), at night. This nighttime electricity would be produced whether the cars were charging or not, so the computations in this video are very dubious and done in a way to push a specific anti-electric agenda.

    Bottom line, do not trust the numbers in this video. And buying electric cars like a Tesla isn’t only about CO2, it can also be because they simply drive far better, are faster, require far less maintenance, no oil changes, fewer brake pad and rotor changes, are quieter, and in the Tesla’s example, 75% American made! The Audi he used to compare against the Tesla is mostly German and Mexican made, so which countries do you want to support? The Middle East for oil in your gas car and your Korean or German car, or American car and American energy sources (electricity)?

  35. Wait but my family has 2 electric cars (Tesla and leaf) but we have solar panels and live in an area that uses a lot of green energy so Im pretty sure my family is more environmentally friendly than gas powered families.

  36. I usually agree with PragerU videos but I don’t know about this one…

    I have a small hunch some of those numbers are being generous and conservative, when necessary, to support his narrative.

  37. Electric car are only popular in California because people charge it at the home with solar panel at the roof. It bad for business because they don't have to pay for gas ever again.

  38. This video misses a very important point, and that is the TIMING of when you charge your car. Electric Power Plants, especially dirty coal fired ones (but also nuclear and gas) run at near maximum capacity 24/7. That is because they must be ready to meet maximum demand the next day. They cannot be easily ramped up and down on a daily basis, so they are always on. BUT… at night demand for electricity is way down as factories and businesses shut down for the night, things cool down, and people sleep. There is a LOT of excess electricity generated at night. That is why I charge my plugin EV between the hours of 11PM and 7AM. I drive all day on energy the otherwise would not have been stored and would have gone to waste. Plus my local electric company offers me a special EV rate of $0.01 per Kwh. So I fully charge my EV for about 10 cents and drive all the next day! So even if it is made with the dirtiest of fossil fuels, I use energy that would be wasted and I pay next to nothing to do it. Can your gas powered car do that?

  39. Wait a minute… these figures all assume that the electricity for driving the electric car is coming out of coal plant… what would the figures be if you are a citizen with home solar panels that drive the car? – taken in account obviously also co2 emissions from manufacturing and scrapping solar panels as well as the disadvantageous effect of the materials used in batteries and solar panels – because CO2 isn’t the only polluting material that we need to look at, right?

  40. There is not a single electrical car in the world that can match the VW 1 liter Diesel/Hybrid car for environmental impact. The sad thing is politicians and religious fanatics stops progress.
    117 MPG on diesel and 260MPG if you have charged the 5.5KW battery.
    The sheer technology of this just knocks the socks off anything like the Teslas, new large battery pack EVs where they produce and haul 100KW battery packs around for a rainy day.

  41. Most people are very easy to fool. And you can sell them almost anything, as long as they believe to be good people when buying crap. EVs are all about virtue signalling. CO2 is not a problem to begin with. That's where the entire narrative of "being a good person" falls apart. In terms of efficiency, using batteries to drive cars is the most stupid way to move stuff around. The power density of today's batteries is approx. 0.4 MJ/kg and that of gasoline 43 MJ/kg. Even if you change that by involving ever more special chemicals and rare earths, you will never come even close to fuel. But you will exploit nature to try it. The most harmful way to handle nature today is "environmental protection". It's doing exactly the opposite of what it promises.

  42. Electric cars are green depends on where u live & shove the car to charge,California & Norway 2 nem a very few… they should take a look at KERS(keniticEnergyRecoverySystem) used in F1 & porsche 918spyder and shove it in electric cars so no more charging.. Go regenerative braking.. Thu its still very xpensive

  43. I don't see why climate change is such a big deal. The earth's climate has been in a perpetual state of change since it developed.

  44. So my very technical analysis of this video, do to the fact that I am a highly educated, and highly intelligent individual, and a genius also. I have come to the very complicated and highly researched conclusion on this topic, that >>> you dont get something for nothing🤓🤓🤓

  45. A comment was made here about how a person is way more environmentally friendly because his family has 2 electric cars and they charge them with their roof panels. Then some one said well how do you think the batteries are made? . So I think the solution is to harness the batteries in dildos because they can make them like those flashlights that you shake up and down and it powers it up. Can you imagine how much power can be made without having to manufacture those solar panels? That is environmentally friendly and I challenge anyone to come up with s better idea🤓

  46. This video is full of lies! Fake sources! Here you can watch a serious analysis:

  47. Wow,I was just about to say that I for once disagree with PragerU. But I guess I don t entirely. CNG is going to make US electricity much cleaner than the current coal based mix. And my next car with massive electrification ( all electric, or Extended Range EV) will give me north of 100 mpgE, 4 times than what I currently get, with massive savings on fuel, at very comparable purchase prices to an ICE car ( i.e. Cadillac ATS versus Tesla 3 )
    But my main consideration will be that I get 350 hp and even more torque from Tesla, unmatched by the competition. EVs are the future. Great video.

  48. My plug in hybrid has 184,000 miles. That's double the 90,000 miles they assumed would be the lifetime of the cars. Additionally the batteries get recycled when the car's service live is over so this video is full of terrible assumptions.

  49. I was just curious, could you pack any more strawman arguments into your videos?

    This was by far one of the dumbest and ill-researched videos I have ever seen.

  50. electric cars maybe better if quebec electricity replace the coal from factories in east us. but i think that americans dont want to have less jobs

  51. People who think their car is green just because it’s electric also think their toaster is green just because they put organic whole wheat toast in it.

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