Electric vehicles in China: Not so green

Photo by Han Jun Zeng (Flickr)

It’s been reported that China is planning a new ‘green car’ scheme that encourages automakers and consumers to use electric vehicles (EVs) as a way to reduce carbon emissions. There’s only one problem: this plan would do nothing to reduce the country’s overall emissions. That’s because China gets almost 80% of its electricity from coal

In areas powered by coal-fired electricity, EVs simply shift emissions from the tailpipe to the power plant—and in most cases, actually make things worse. According to one study, EVs powered by coal-fired electricity are responsible for 3.6 times more soot and smog deaths—and emit more greenhouse gases—than regular gas vehicles. So until China transitions away from coal, there’s nothing ‘green’ about this EV scheme.