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The Greenwashing Conundrum of Electrical Autos

The Greenwashing Conundrum of Electrical Autos

It’s time to speak up. Has the climate impact of electric cars (EVs) improved global sustainability efforts?

Greenwashing in the EV market is real. Image: Malaya.com.ph.

That is different from how it appears. Automakers’ complete openness is currently shady. When the Polestar 2 Life Cycle Assessment was conducted in 2020, it used a comprehensive process to calculate its sustainability data. This report led other automakers to become more forthcoming about the impact of climate change on their products.

Electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than traditional combustion-based vehicles. The topic of greenwashing by different OEMs has been debated for a while.

Nonetheless, several variables affect how environmentally friendly and sustainable EVs are overall. Let’s examine some main arguments favouring greener EVs and some common grounds for the automobile industry’s “greenwashing” of electric vehicles.

Claims proving electric cars are greener:

1) Reduced tailpipe emissions: Conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles release dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, which worsen air pollution and accelerate climate change. On the other hand, when driving an electric vehicle, no exhaust pollutants are released.

2) Decreased greenhouse gas emissions: The total emissions of greenhouse gases linked to electric vehicles (EVs) depend on the composition of electricity generation in a given area.

3) Energy efficiency: Generally, internal combustion engines are less energy-efficient than electric motors. Compared to conventional cars, which waste a significant amount of energy as heat during combustion, electric vehicles (EVs) convert a more substantial percentage of grid energy into usable electricity to propel the car.

4) Lifecycle emissions: Research has demonstrated that EVs can still have smaller carbon footprints than conventional cars throughout their lifetime when manufacturing, charging, and end-of-life recycling are considered.

5) Technological advancements in batteries: As battery technology advances, the environmental impact of battery production is reduced. Research is being done to create more environmentally friendly battery materials and recycling techniques, increasing the ecological friendliness of EVs.

Volvo EX30

Volvo EX30 touts to be one of the most exciting EVs to debut. Image: Volvo.

5 Reasons for EV Greenwashing

Deceiving customers about a product or service’s environmental benefits is known as “greenwashing”.

False environmental allegations
Certain automakers may exaggerate the environmental advantages of their EVs without offering enough proof or clear statistics to back up their assertions in an attempt to project a favourable image; this practice is known as “greenwashing” electric cars.

Presentation of Specific Data Only
Electric car greenwashing is the practice of automakers emphasising certain features of their cars that seem environmentally sound while downplaying other, less eco-friendly characteristics. This practice can be done by cherry-picking data or using a limited scope.

Equilibrium Emissions
Some automakers may advertise that their electric vehicles (EVs) are environmentally friendly by offsetting emissions in various ways, such as buying carbon credits or contributing to environmental programs, without considering the actual emissions from their supply chains or production processes.

Insufficient Transparency
When businesses are opaque about the environmental effects of their products, greenwashing can flourish and make it difficult for customers to make wise decisions.

Sales Hype
While some businesses may employ deceptive marketing strategies to give the impression that they care about the environment, they may not be making significant efforts to increase the sustainability of their product lines.

Greenwashing

Are we saving the earth by recharging EVs instead of regular petrol cars? Image: Total-tool.com

So, do EVs qualify as green?

To demonstrate whether or not electric vehicles are greener, four main arguments are required.

Battery mining
Even while it appears that there will be plenty of supply, we cannot ignore the harm that rare earth element (REE) exploitation causes to the ecosystem. Mined from underneath the earth’s surface, rare earth elements like lithium are utilised to build batteries for electric vehicles.

A recent Chinese Society of Rare Earth analysis states that 1 ton of radioactive residue and 75 tons of acid waste are needed to produce 1 ton of rare earth elements. This is because most energy required to make these batteries comes from non-low-carbon sources, contributing to about half of their environmental effects.

Recycling of Batteries
Because lithium-ion batteries contain very little lithium and a highly complex mixture of chemical components, commercial recycling is not an attractive option.

This does not affect how greener EVs are. However, learning ways to recycle or recapture REEs (Rare Earth Elements) has become increasingly attractive as the market for EVs expands. Thus, there’s a significant chance that a healthy market for battery recycling will keep expanding, assisting in the environmental friendliness of electric vehicles.

Mining rare earths

See Also

Mining rare earth elements that are used in the manufacturing of EV batteries. Image: Gript.

Grid Sustainability for Charging
Simply put, electric automobiles’ CO2 emissions will always be higher if they are powered by sources other than solar, wind, nuclear, or hydroelectric power.

For instance, it makes little difference if these automobiles emit no emissions while being driven if the electricity used to charge them is produced by burning fossil fuels; the pollution was previously discharged in a power plant some distance away.

Not All Output No cost
Cars using electric motors are not entirely emission-free. Although these vehicles don’t release CO2 when they run, they do release CO2 when they are made and when the energy in their batteries is generated.

For example, mining activities that extract rare earth metals for battery production can use a lot of electricity, which pollutes the environment. When producing electricity, an engine running on fossil fuels still releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — but it’s doing so through a distant power plant rather than the exhaust. Regarding battery recycling, most EV batteries have yet to be recycled, making it an expensive and developing process.

Greenwashing

Do your research before buying your EV. Image: Acardis.

Customers should do their homework and assess the environmental claims made by automakers closely to avoid being duped into buying electric cars. Governments and regulatory agencies are also essential in establishing guidelines and guaranteeing openness to stop the automobile industry from engaging in the “greenwashing” of electric vehicles.

Read the fine print and other related materials about EV Greenwashing. Certain automakers may not be transparent about sustainability. The buyer’s choice to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) due to environmental concerns will be based only on their judgment, investigation, and understanding of the auto industry.

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Source: Luxuo

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