Swapping all UK cars for EVs would cut emissions by 12%, study finds

The UK's total carbon emissions would be slashed by almost 12% if the country only used electric vehicles (EVs), research from Nottingham Trent University (NTU) has found.


The findings show that 42 million tons of CO2 (MtCO2) would be removed from the atmosphere by switching to EVs – a 11.89% cut to the UK’s 351.5 MtCO2 of total emissions last year.

Carbon emissions would actually fall by 14%, but also increase by around 2.1% due to the extra energy needed from power stations to run the EVs, creating the total net savings of almost 12%.

The study – by PhD candidate George Milev, from the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment – considered fully electric cars currently used in the UK, including the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, Jaguar I-Pace, and more.

“These are encouraging findings and show just how much impact the switch to electric cars could have,” Milev said. “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are regularly seeing reports on how the environment has benefited from the decreased use of combustion engines.

“If and when the UK moves exclusively to electric car usage, we will similarly see real benefits in the dramatic reduction in levels of CO2.”

The government plans to ban the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and aims to bring all greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050.

Meanwhile, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that registrations of fully electric cars surged to record levels last year, despite an overall decline in new car sales.

Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh, a professor of intelligent engineering systems, who supervised the latest study, said: “Clearly there is a long way to go until electric vehicles are commonplace, which is when we will start to see the real environmental benefits of this emerging technology.

“When you consider the combined impact of UK homes incorporating more environmentally-friendly technologies and behaviours, it is clear to see how in years to come a real dent can be made in the total amount of CO2 produced each year.”


Image credit: iStock


Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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