The goals of the United Nations COP26 conference identify rapid transition to electric vehicles as one of the routes to help achieve net zero by 2050. We’re already working at the forefront of electrification with all kinds of partners in academia and industry to power the switch – and we’re already delivering results.
One of the most unhelpful myths of our times is that electric cars are not greener than their conventional combustion engine counterparts when emissions from production and electricity generation are considered.
We have definitively debunked this myth and demonstrated that electric cars are better for the climate in 95% of the world. Fears that electric cars increase carbon emissions are largely unfounded – average lifetime emissions from electric vehicles (EV) are up to 70% lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France, and around 30% lower in the UK.
We project that by 2050, every second car on the streets will be electric.
And our researchers have already identified how the achievement of this figure could be accelerated by a global Tipping Point: when EVs cost the same to manufacture as conventional cars.
EVs are more costly to buy in every country except Norway, where a progressive tax system makes EVs competitive and has led to more than 50% of new car sales being electric. We’ve found that by acting as one, China, the EU and California (together responsible for half the world’s car sales) could shift global investment, increase production and decrease costs – and each meet their commitments to rapid decarbonisation targets.
Dr Jean-Francois Mercure - University of Exeter Global Systems Institute
Our Centre for Future Clean Mobility (CFCM) is already at the forefront on the road to zero carbon, developing innovative hybrid and electric powertrain technology that makes transport cleaner and greener.
Speeding up the switch to electric vehicles is also reliant on developing battery technology. That increases the pressure to produce minerals such as lithium, cobalt, rare earth and copper.
The geology of the South West region plays a pivotal role in our ground-breaking global research, thanks to the extensive geological exposure and the close association of critical metals. Camborne School of Mines has worked on many major regional projects and has the expertise and resources to create the conditions for producing raw materials in the most sustainable way.
Globally switching to electric vehicles is a key mechanism to wean the world off fossil fuels and move towards a carbon-neutral future. By bringing clarity and truth to the discussion and pushing the boundaries of technology and sustainable mining, the University of Exeter is leading the charge.