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EDITORIAL: Most electric vehicles don’t eliminate carbon emissions

If you want to reduce your carbon emissions, don’t buy an electric vehicle. Most electric vehicles don’t eliminate carbon emissions, they displace them.

Progressives have long touted electric vehicles as key to saving the world from global warming. For instance, the Green New Deal calls for replacing every internal combustion engine with electric vehicles and electric mass transit. This sounds like a logical plan to reduce emissions, even if you doubt the oft-wrong predictions of the climate doomsayers. After all, EVs don’t produce tailpipe emissions when running solely on battery power.

But, as is often the case with the radical green agenda, there is a difference between what is seen and what is unseen.

The lithium batteries that power electric cars have to come from somewhere. China produces 60 percent of the world’s supply, notwithstanding Northern Nevada’s Tesla plant. To produce a battery able to store as much energy as is contained in a barrel of oil, it requires the equivalent of 100 barrels of oil. That’s according to Manhattan Institute senior fellow Mark P. Mills.

“Importing batteries manufactured on Asia’s coal-heavy grid means that consumers are just exporting carbon-dioxide emissions,” Mr. Mills wrote recently in City Journal.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April on a German study finding that, given the country’s energy makeup, “the carbon emissions of battery-electric vehicles there, are, in the best case, ‘slightly higher than those of a diesel engine.’ ”

The carbon emissions don’t stop once the car is produced. Electric cars are charged on the grid. Coal and natural gas — both fossil fuels — produced 63 percent of that power in 2018. Almost 20 percent comes from nuclear power and 7 percent is from hydropower. Despite decades of hype and subsidies, wind and solar produced just a bit more than 8 percent. Solar and wind generation will likely increase in the coming decades, but absent an embrace of nuclear power, fossil fuels will be necessary to balance out the grid.

That means that charging an electric vehicle will require carbon emissions for the foreseeable future.

There’s another way electric cars disrupt the environment. Besides lithium, their batteries require numerous minerals, including cobalt, carbon, nickel and manganese. Mr. Mills reports that obtaining the minerals needed for one battery requires mining and moving around half a million pounds of Earth. If EV production ever expanded dramatically in America, environmentalists would undoubtedly sue to stop the mining it would require.

Global warming alarmists present electric vehicles as a cure-all. In reality, electric vehicles exchange carbon emissions you can see for those you can’t. It’d be worth addressing that inconvenient truth if you believe the world will end in 11 years absent the elimination of carbon emissions.

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