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
scrapping. 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.

Paul Whisler


  1. I'm a conservative and I love Prager U, but these climate videos are idiotic and stupid. Cherry picking at its finest. Just because majority of dems believe in Climate Change doesn't mean republicans have to disagree. It's science – and if you do more thorough and accurate research, Prager U is wrong. What idiots!

  2. CCGT plants are twice as efficient as ICE and run on natural gas which produces much less CO2 than gasoline. In addition, energy production by coal in the US is less than 30% of the overall so I don't think coal is a good fuel source to use when comparing electric cars. Sorry, Wrong.

  3. That's too bad for USA. For those living in Canada… "The most important source [of electricity] in Canada is moving water, which generates 59.3 per cent of electricity supply…About 9.5 per cent of electricity supply comes from coal."


  4. The only minor thing that we miss in this video, CO2 IS NOT A POLLUTION!! SO STOP WITH THIS IDIOTIC ELECTRIC CAR! and don’t forget what are we going to do with all these batteries when finished? Send it to Norway, they have no pollution there!

  5. Yes if you look at it maybe it's not as clear cut but at the end of it all you are able to lessen the carbon footprint better than combustion engines then it's worth it. Bottom line.

  6. but remember, trees take in CO2 and we breathe out CO2 so should we just stop breathing

  7. Here (Paraguay) in a very big porcent we have renewable energy, it's hidroelectric, but still is dangerous for the environment, according to my lectures, so i don't know what to think 🙁

  8. I just have a problem if they force people to drive these cars. The greenest energy ever comes from bikes

  9. The gasoline combustion engine was invented 140 years ago and NOTHING has been invented since to overosme that engine. A few people have tried , but ended up dead. See Stan Meyers right here on YouTube.. made a ware-powered engine? Poisoned two weeks later at a Cracker Barrel.

  10. Even mechanically driven machines are not green, like bicycles.
    Imagine the emission would come from manufacturing bikes?
    And the daily use of it would wear the tires and brakes faster and you can see it's going in the same direction as any other means of transport.
    The world has no green deal, even renewables in most cases are damging to the environment, let alone the cost, maintenance and risk of failure that comes with it!
    And yeah it's manufacturing emissions is sky high!

  11. You forget something tho: almost all Tesla owners in the US have solar panels at home and are changing at home. So that makes your Tesla calculation incorrect. Also as far as I know most states don't have 100% coal powered electricity. Also incorrect calculation.

    Also don't blame the EV-drivers for the failure of the US-goverment for not investing in green energy.

  12. I always new my 24 year old dodge truck was more economical than these people's shitty electric and hybrid cars. And that several people have used it over and over. Buying a new car is the worst thing you can do.

  13. You make no sense you say electric cars produce 10% less co2 in lifetime of 90000 miles so how can they cause more death from more

  14. what an ANTI EV video…..
    Here are a couple facts I gathered too, comparing ICE ( internal combustin Engine) cars versus EV cars… and the picture is totally reversed from yours.

    CO2 emmited during the entire lifecycle of a vehicle ( to produce it and then use it during 150000Km)
    ICE : 46 tons
    EV : 26 tons
    NOx emitted when driving these cars for 150000km
    ICE : 75 tons
    EV : 0 tons

    But lets not forget the energy used to drive 150000Km, it does also emit CO2 :
    how does the production of this energy ( extraction refining, transport.;.etc) contribute to the pollution ?
    Diesel (Source
    6 tons of CO2
    Electricity (Source
    0,42 tons of CO2

  15. and if you guys wonders about recycling batteries..
    Tesla are meant now for 1500 cycles or 500000miles so about 15 years of ownership for an average driver.
    then these batteries can be used in home powerwalls to store energy from your solar panels for example, for another 20 years..
    well, this already puta us 35 years from now, no doibt recycling will be easier

  16. Thank you for busting the clean coal myth. You need to convince President Trump.

  17. Love the video and in top of what you said, I can tell by my own experience that electrical cars or hybrids are extremely dangerous and no responsive in highways and freeways. Very dangerous cars. Climate change is a Freaking Fallacy and politics won’t stop this brain washing us, just for their own gain of big money deals with all this BS.

  18. Btw it’s unbelievable how many people don’t have any idea of the facts that are pointed in this video. Virtual signaling is one of the worst enemies promoted by hypocrites that won’t ever give up AC or heating Systems in their own houses and keep flying in private jets that not only polluted more the skies with chemical trails.

  19. Wana fix the co2 problem

    It’s simple plant trees

    Clean under brush from forests

    Make paper and houses and rubber and plastic from hemp instead of trees and oil

    Anything made from hemp will suck co2 our of the air until that product is burned

    Meaning every house built sucks co2

    Every paper sheet made sucks out co2

    Every article of clothing made co2

    And we won’t have to raise taxes for any of it and things will actually become cheaper

    As for cars well ethanol made from hemp for fuel is 100% carbon neutral

  20. Where I live, we use hydro and wind power. So that coal co2 usage? Yeah, BS! MY car is NOT powered by coal. It's powered by water, and air. If you're going to cover all costs… why didn't you compare the cost of drilling and refining crude oil? How much energy does that use? Why don't you mention that even after a gas car is manufactured, it's still producing hydrocarbons the entirety of its life? Why is your article so one-sided?

  21. I generally agree. However, I don't want to fight another war in the middle east. So, to me, anything that makes the middle east irrelevant is good

  22. 12,000 dislikes when I viewed this video just goes to show how so many people do not want to listen to facts.

  23. From an informed layman’s point of view it seems like our best bet right now is to try and make nuclear power safer and more efficient.

  24. The main reason I like the shift towards electric cars is because of the increased versatility. Sure you could use coal to power it. You could also use nuclear, or water, or wind, or solar, or any other method of producing electricity. With gas cars, you just have gas. The switch to electric cars gives us the option to switch to better ways of producing electricity, rather than being stuck with what we got.

  25. Yes. They really are. Not straight off the lot, but only after about year 5 of their life. This used to be about year 8. Within two years this will be reduced to year 3, as tech and methods of production improve. The next gen of batteries could see this reduced to year one. Playing the long game, it isn't even a contest. EV beats ICE hands-down, and the best thing is that savings are passed to the consumer immediately.

  26. Misses the point of useing less fossil fuel. When this video was made solar panels were ok. Now theyre better. Renewable harvesting is getting better. Pesonaly my money is with guys doing already built cars and switching out motors and fuel to electric. While expensive now. The more rich people do this here in the us and abroad it will help drive down the price and soon it could be done in most backyards.

  27. It's amazing how STUPID they are– they think electricity comes from FAIRY-FARTS.
    Elon Musk is a LEECH who just grubs for kickbacks.

  28. This video reveals the inconvenient truth about ignorance of the left. The only clean and reliable source of energy that could make electric cars cleaner is nuclear power. But because it makes sense, the left against it

  29. 1/3 of all shipping is just moving crude oil & Petrol to Various ports !

    A tesla produces 0% nitrous oxide and no PM2.5 ! Thus this video is total baloney. . .

  30. So many facts intentionally omitted…You are using national averages for coal burning electricity generation but fail to recognize EVs are most popular in places that use barely any coal. You completely ignore the damage to the environment and human health that transporting crude oil and burning gasoline causes. And the biggest deception is, you are focusing on co2, which isn't even a pollutant and has very little impact on the environment. Lastly, no matter how dirty the production of electricity is, moving to EVs will centralize the power production in one place, away from school yards, parks and playgrounds. This will also allow us to "green" millions of cars just by upgrading the power plant in the future. That is a huge advantage.

  31. How’s the ad before the video. Hahaha. Climate crisis. 😂😂😂😂

  32. After watching this video, follow it with this one and see what you think. Food for thought.

  33. The deal with electrics is make urban centers less polluted. Although it doesn’t make much difference in a global scale. At least were most of people are concentrated, the air will be better.

  34. And electric cars are a lot faster too. So i’d choose a model S instead of a corvette just because it’s cooler and faster

  35. This isn't as much of an issue in Canada as our energy production is 66% renewable and another 15% comes from nuclear, making a total of 81% of our energy production not coming from fossil fuels. Also, Potholer54 made a pretty good debunking video about this.

  36. Yes, they are much greener, over the lifetime of the car, than internal combustion vehicles

  37. Electric cars and hybrids are mainly for the rich to make a public statement of conservation. They trade their car after 2 years, well before any needs for major repairs, and if they actually have major problems, they have another 4 cars at home.Maybe they just go home and take the Benz instead. We need more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, I was told, so I don't mind the coal power plants.


  39. You can say what you want but I still prefer the electric option for the future and for the environment.

    Im not leftist or some like that but that's my opinion about this specific topic.

  40. When Jesus wants us to drive electric cars he will make them. Like when he turned the fish into wine.

  41. I love watching Prager U videos, but I disagree with this video. Aside for C02, there are other harmful emissions burning fossil fuels. Some are reduced from the catalytic convertor, but still poses a health risk.. My next car will be an electric car (waiting for 2020 when the range is increased).

  42. It seems that electric cars would be basically green if you lived in a place where electricity is provided by nuclear.

  43. No because they require electricity which has to come from somewhere and what are their batteries made of.

  44. Well, I got to say the air pollution from a power plant is more likely to be processed into a harmless gas than it from thousands of cars. And that’s the only advantage I can tell from an electric car

  45. How about banning cars inside cities with populations greater than 500,000? Mass transit and bicycles only. Sounds ridiculous, but… Why not stop people from living on one city and working in another, commuting 2 hours twice a day? If you want to work in a town, move there. I'd prefer we went back to the horse and buggy, but then we'd have PETA to deal with.

  46. So what we learned today. Every single rechargable battery is coal powered. Save the planet by using powerbanks instead of plugging your phone on the wall directly. Dude are you serious right now? While you are driving are you polluting the earth? No. You got your anwser.

  47. Electric cars CAN be vocal powered and still emit less than the equivalent gas car. Sadly, there is no option to stop smoke from coming out a gas car, but myriad options with an ev since I don’t have to just use ever-dwindling coal plants. Thank God this video highlights how bad coal is. The renewable use has already topped the predicted use in of17% in many places and the video doesn’t talk about how quickly the change over is accelerating.

  48. Remarkably inadequate and misleading presentation. Next time, please account for the pollution associated with maintenance of vehicles (e.g. manufacture, delivery and disposal of oils, oil filters, air filters, coolants, engine flushes, fuel injectors, etc). In addition to refineries, the pollution from tankers to deliver fuels to service/gas stations and the maintenance of everything to in between too. Finally, nuclear power is cleanest and safest. Yes, safest. WHO estimates 6 million people die from air pollution EACH YEAR. How many have died from nuclear?

  49. We don't need to waste money on electric cars, solar panels or wind turbines that only allow corrupt leftists get rich from taxes
    All we need is technology that will allow us to absorb CO2, such as Carbon Capture plant that will not only clean our atmosphere, but also provide endless supplies of CO2 that can be used for farming and at the same time allow us to extract more fossil fuel for economic growth of our nations.

  50. Best thing you can do is drive your car for as long as possible or better yet a motorcycle, especially if you don't have a passenger.

  51. Skipped right from renewables to coal generated electricity, but most new power plants run on natural gas. Still CO2 but cleaner.

  52. This video Is just full of shit. You are arguing against fossil fuel energy politics and blaming it on e-cars. What a about other countries with better energy production and greener electricity? Renewables, fission? Maybe fusion In the distant future? Homes with sun panels? Electric cars Is the ONLY possible majos transportation way going forward.

  53. The most simplistic view of the world. Rewind 120 years… there are not paved roads, cars need paved roads, horses do not need paved roads. Government does not predict paved roads in the future. Keep your horse.

  54. Well more than 80% of Brazilian energy is renewable so for us is ok

  55. This is a terrible video. You just cherry picked data. Did you really think people wouldn't check?

  56. You neglected the CO2 generated by oil refineries. Also you forgot the billions in government grants the government hands over to big oil. Have you ever seen the Albertan tar sands….I doubt it, cause they sure as hell are not enviro friendly. Potholer 54 was correct in tagging you as a troll sponsored by big oil. You're a sellout.

  57. Why don't you tree huggers put the oil industry out of business by stopping to buy gasoline and park your cars. Use a bicycle as transportation. In other words, lead by example. when you tree huggers start walking. Maybe we conservatives will start walking. AOC want everyone to give up their cars, but guess what. Government officials like her and the elite get to keep their cars and jets. While we peasants get to walk and swim where we need to go. During prohibition of alcohol. Only government officials and the elite had access to alcohol. The same people who made the law to ban alcohol because it was bad for us. Had access to it when they want it. The same thing will happen with this climate change. This is nothing more of a scam for world governments to have control over its citizens like lil Kim in Korea. There are no better or reliable energy like fossil fuels.

  58. No the electricity has to come from fossil fuel to support the electricity you dumb asses

  59. Anyone here who thinks this video is serious needs to watch Potholer54 's response.

  60. Engineering explain did this way better with links to actual data. This video is for people who don't like fact's. You left out a ton of info that he covered. The bottom line is electric cars are not worse for the environment.

  61. Good thing than that CO2 is neither a pollutant nor dangerous. Quite the contrary. Makes the whole video kinda pointless.

  62. Its a well-known fact the Prius is the world's dirtiest car through its life cycle. So what now?

  63. I like PragurU but then they make garbage like this video and it upsets me deeply because their agenda is too one sided.

  64. What happens to 7000 batteries of an electric cars when they go bad? Where will they be thrown way?

  65. Complete overlooked the drilling up oil, which goes wrong and gives us ecological disasters, and uses power thus creates co2, then a dieselpowered ship comes to transport all this to the refinery, which again spits out a major amount of co2. Then the refinery starts the very powerhungry process of making all its products (co2) and also burns off residue (co2). Then a truck comes to transport it to the gastations (co2). And guess what the pump at the gastation runs on the same electrics as an EV. Thus using coal powered electricity in your case.

    It's very ignorant completely leaving out the above, makes it look like you are very biased about this. Also keep in mind that unlike america the rest big parts of the world are alot further when it comes to making energy in a cleaner way then burning coal or petroleum.

    I'm sorry but you have completely missed the point in this video

  66. If you guys didn’t already know, PragerU is funded by a billionaire who made his money in oil. So yeah…..

  67. This guy is an idiot- no citations, he didn’t even mention that it takes C02 emissions to get gas into gas stations!!!

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