Environmental Sustainability

The Role of Electromobility in Meeting the EU’s Long-Term Climate Objectives

It is clear that the transition to electrification and the promotion of electric vehicle uptake specifically, plays an important role in the reduction of emissions and air pollution. On a global scale, the advancement of electromobility can help countries achieve their overall climate change objectives, such as those agreed upon at COP21 and those envisioned in the European Commission’s Green Deal announced in December 2019, that states in order to achieve climate neutrality, a 90% reduction in transport emissions is needed by 2050.

In fact, it is expected that the transport sector will deliver a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the EU by 2050. Whereas it is predicted that reaching the COP21 goal of limiting temperature to 1.5°C, will require a complete decarbonisation of the transport sector by 2050(Source: EAFO, 2017)

Moreover, EAFO studies show that with a transition to a 100% zero-emission vehicle car fleet by 2050 it is possible to achieve an additional reduction of 3.9 gigatonnes of cumulative CO2 emissions in  2050 compared to existing EU targets. As the European power industry has committed to near 100% carbon neutral electricity production in Europe by 2050, the net “Well to Wheel” GHG emissions reduction from transport can be expected to be even higher. (Source: EAFO, 2017)

Life-Cycle Analysis/Energy Mix

On a life-cycle basis, EVs are already very competitive regarding CO2 emissions (compared to other propulsion modes). This CO2 intensity will further decrease in the future, based on the increasing share of renewables in the energy mix. In a full life-cycle, taking into account the current European electricity mix, electric vehicles emit two times less carbon dioxide (CO2) in comparison to diesel engines. This can be even 4 times less if we take as an example the Belgian electricity mix. If cars were driving on sustainable electricity, carbon dioxide emissions could be further reduced by a factor of 15 (Source: The World Electric Vehicle Journal, 2018, 9(1), Electric driving: sparking your interest).

Whereas taking into account the European average power mix and its emissions of 275.9g CO2/ KWh, electric vehicles emit less than 50% of what an average internal combustion engine car emits today. The Wheel-To-Wheel (WTW) emissions of EVs will continue to fall, as the European power sector decarbonises by 2050. (Source: FAQ on Electromobility, Platform for Electromobility).