In his fifth column on electric vehicles, Daniel Butler-Hawkes, energy solutions officer at Jersey Electricity, looks at the environmental benefits of battery powered transport
HAVING looked at the practical and financial advantages of electric vehicles in previous columns, we can turn our attention to the environmental benefits that they bring.
In 2020, Jersey became a signatory, through the UK, to the Paris Agreement and the International Convention on Climate Change.
As a result, the Island committed to an ambitious goal to cut carbon emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035 – two key milestones on the way to the overall goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.
While hitting these targets will not be easy, such an outcome is clearly aligned with Jersey Electricity’s vision of a zero-carbon future.
To reach net zero by 2050, the government’s Carbon Neutral Roadmap, adopted in April 2022, sets out several policies related to transport.
This is not surprising, as the roadmap identifies transport as the largest source of greenhouse-gas emissions, accounting for around 36%.
The roadmap outlines the importance of:
Speeding up the adoption of electric vehicles, with plans including subsidising their purchase.
Phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030.
Supporting people to walk, cycle or take the bus.
But why are EVs seen as such an important part of this strategy and are they really better for the environment than traditional petrol and diesel cars?
According to research published by EDF Energy, the biggest benefit of EVs is the contribution they make towards air quality. As they do not have a tailpipe, they do not emit any carbon dioxide, which significantly reduces air pollution.
On this basis, one EV can save an average 1.5 million grams of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of four return flights between London and Barcelona.
And it is not only air pollution which EVs can help to address. As they are much quieter than petrol and diesel vehicles, they also have a positive impact on noise pollution.
While such benefits are undeniable, many people still question how the production of EVs impacts the environment. It is true that a lot of energy goes into their production, mainly because of the processes involved in manufacturing the lithium-ion batteries.
However, research by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed that ‘more than a third of the lifetime CO² emissions from an electric car came from the energy used to make the car itself’. Because of this, EVs remain a greener option overall, with the European Energy Agency finding that, even when the electricity needed to charge the vehicles is taken into account, an EV’s carbon emissions are still between 17% and 30% lower than those associated with a petrol and diesel car.
And, as Jersey Electricity uses low-carbon electricity, these emissions are reduced even further.
Collectively, we are becoming more conscious of our carbon footprint. By choosing electric vehicles, we can have a significant impact.