Phasing out fossil-fuelled private vehicles and replacing them with zero emission alternatives is a key priority in the Five Year Environment Plan for Greater Manchester.

Trevor Walker from Autotrader, discusses why making a switch to EV can help the reduce your carbon impact when buying a new car.  Autotrader is a Gold Carbon Literacy Organisation.

Around the world, governments are being pressured to lead the attack against climate change, in order to save the planet and keep the favour of voters, especially amongst younger, more eco-conscious generations. In order to take action, many have chosen to set targets such as going carbon neutral by a certain date.

One of the main talking points when it comes to global climate goals is reducing our reliance on fossil fuels like petrol and diesel, and instead switching to cleaner, greener renewable energy. Electric cars are a major player in this, and governments will need to make sure that they are accessible and affordable to the majority of people, as well as ensuring a strong infrastructure.

But why are they so important? We take a look.

Reducing carbon emissions

The planet is getting warmer. Not only is this clear in the statistics, but it can be felt world-over, with heatwaves and flash floods due to rising sea levels. This happens because of the greenhouse effect, where gases such as carbon dioxide form a layer which then trap heat in the atmosphere.

Whilst we need a certain amount of gases to keep the Earth at its natural temperature, humans are creating far more emissions than needed, causing the Earth to overheat. Increasing carbon dioxide emissions also negatively affects sea life, as it’s absorbed into the water, making it more acidic than normal. In turn, this can cause coral bleaching and harm multiple species of fish, who can’t cope in the changing conditions.

Driving around in your EV is actually considered zero emissions, as the majority of the carbon footprint comes from the electricity production and manufacturing processes. Even with these factors, they’re still lower emission than petrol cars – production of a standard VW Golf-sized EV produces around 25 tonnes of carbon, whereas an equivalent petrol model would generate 80 tonnes. This means that they’re a key part of helping governments reduce their overall carbon footprints.

Demand for renewable energy

Electric cars run, as the name suggests, off electricity. It’s important to understand that unless you run your EV off self-generated renewable energy, there’s no way of fuelling your EV with totally green power. The national grid is currently composed of both renewable units and fossil fuel generated units.

However, as the demand for eco-friendly energy increases, so too does the amount of renewable energy that the government pulls into the grid. Greenhouse gas emissions in the grid have been reduced by over 70% since 1990, and the current grid mix sits around 50/50 for renewable/low carbon solutions and fossil fuels.

Hopefully, as demand for EVs increases, so too will the amount of renewable energy, as people opt for green tariffs or installing solutions like solar panels at home in order to reduce their bills.

Reducing waste parts

EVs have fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles, which means that there is less to replace if something goes wrong. Even if parts can be recycled, it takes energy to do this, so reducing the waste in the first place is a vital part of keeping carbon emissions low in order to meet targets.

To sum up

Whilst EVs certainly aren’t a perfect solution, they can really help countries move towards meeting their global climate targets. Having these targets is essential for holding governments accountable, and pushing for the change that the planet desperately needs.

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