"Electric Cars Are Doing More Harm Than Good" Professor Warns

Tyler Durden's picture

"An electric car does not make you green... You’re better off filling up at the pump," if you live in Canada. According to a new study by professor Chris Kennedy, even if every driver in Canada made the switch - from gas to electric - the total emissions might not actually go down... since in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, electric cars generate more carbon pollution over their lifetimes than gas-powered cars. Paging Al Gore...


As CBC reports, trying to go green by replacing your gas guzzler with an electric car? In some provinces, that may actually be worse for the environment, a University of Toronto researcher says.

In Alberta, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, electric cars generate more carbon over their lifetimes than gas-powered cars, said Chris Kennedy, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto, in an interview with CBC's The Current Tuesday.

That's because those provinces generate much of their electricity by burning coal, so consuming more electricity – by charging your electric car battery, for instance – significantly boosts carbon emissions.


"So… literally, if you're living in Alberta, Saskatchewan or Nova Scotia, an electric car does not make you green?" asked Anna Maria Tremonti, host of The Current. "You're better off filling up at the pump?"


"You're better off filling up at the pump," Kennedy agreed. "Or if you really want to go for something greener, you should be buying a conventional hybrid car."


However, in the rest of Canada, driving an electric car is the greener choice, he found.


He figured that out by looking at the carbon emissions generated by gas and electric cars over their entire life cycle, taking into account the source of electricity used to charge their batteries and how the gas used to fuel a conventional car is produced in different parts of the world.


The carbon emissions from electricity generation are measured in tonnes of CO2 emitted per gigawatt hour of electricity produced. That ranges from:

  • Close to 0 for hydroelectric, nuclear and renewable energy.
  • 500 to 600 for natural gas power plants.
  • 1,000 for coal-fired power plants.

For a given country or province, if average emissions were under 600 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt hour, then switching from conventional to electric cars, buses and trucks will lead to a reduction in carbon emissions, Kennedy reported in a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change earlier this month.

In some Canadian provinces, that reduction in emissions can be quite dramatic – B.C., Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland all produce less than 20 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt hour of electricity, so driving an electric car can reduce emissions to close to zero.


Ultimately, however, the study's goal isn't to help consumers make decisions about what car to buy, Kennedy said.


The take-home message is actually for governments in some Canadian provinces and other countries: That they need to get their average emissions below the 600-tonne threshold so they can benefit from technology like electric cars.


"Electrification," he said, "is the most pivotal strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide."

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Just wait til China gets wind of this...

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LetThemEatRand's picture

Deceptive headline.  The article itself says that electric cars generated fewer emisions everywhere except a few provinces because they happen to rely mostly on coal.   "B.C., Quebec, Manitoba, and Newfoundland all produce less than 20 tonnes of CO2 per gigawatt hour of electricity, so driving an electric car can reduce emissions to close to zero."  Not that you'd even remotely guess that from reading the headline.

Drachma's picture

Red-herring headline. CO2 is not the problem. Has never and will never be.

Beam Me Up Scotty's picture

I'll worry about CO2 when i see Al Gore living in a cardboard box.  Until then, not so worried.

Stackers's picture

And did Mr Professor also calculate the carbon difference in the production of giant battery vs a conventional 4 cylinder engine and all the down stream mining, refining and production involved ?

Headbanger's picture

Wanna be green??

There's these big critters called "horse" that eat grass for fuel to go

But I'm smarter than to settle for just riding a "horse"

Cause there's even BIGGER critters around me called "mooooose" that eat grass even under water!

So I'm fixin to git me a nice big "4x4" amphibious mooose to be green!


aardvarkk's picture

Large mammals fart methane, which is many times worse than CO2.  I denounce you for agitating for crimes against Gaia and order you to remand yourself into custody until such time as there is a position available at one of the reeducation camps.  Get it through your skull, there is no known way to live entirely green, and so therefore you must die, or at least not reproduce.

You environmental criminals disgust me.

A Nanny Moose's picture

But horses automatically replenish the roads, with fresh road apples. Does a Jackass produce less methane? We should monitor all of Al Gore's orifices to be certain. Who's gonna volunteer?

New_Meat's picture

u just don't wanna' b Headbanger's bitch ;-)

Creepy A. Cracker's picture

"Electric Cars Are Doing More Harm Than Good"

Yep, they are destroying the sex lives of people, flagging them as total poindexters or policy-wonk govies, harming their chances.  Although poindexters/policy-wonk govies not mating is probably a good thing for society in general.

cobra1650's picture

How about a 200 LB tattoed swamp donkey rollin down the road in her 3 ton Yukon smokin newports and callin her homeboy on the cell?

jaxville's picture

  Excellent point Stackers.   Most advanced batteries require large quantities of rare earth metals.  Mining those metals then refining them as well as the manufacture of batteries requires far more energy input than that from casting and machining steel or aluminum.

  I don't buy into any of the carbon footprint bunko.  It is shocking at the lack of real scientific methods found in the warming claims.

Winston Churchill's picture

Same with ethanol when you include ALL the costs.

Couldn't do that without pising off the farm lobby though.

de3de8's picture

Who cares about the truth

Who was that masked man's picture

Or a wooden one six feet below ground.

A Nanny Moose's picture

I will be worried about CO2 when Al Gore self-sequesters his 0.01%, ivy league pie hole

Farqued Up's picture

I'll rest easier when cows stop farting and Al Gore stops breathing while exhaling that poisonous, deadly CO2. Oh wait, cow farts are insignificant.

Serfs Up's picture

Best if you checked up on ocean acidification....very straightforward...simple chemistry (probably not a strong suit for some here, I am guessing).

More CO2 = lower ocean pH.  

Already cannot hatch oysters on both US coasts...who knows what sorts of dire problems exist beyond the things we care enough about eating to study well?

The Joker's picture

Yes, the ocean has gone from pH 8.3 to pH 8.1.  It is becoming more acidic. 

Newsflash:  Even though 8.1 is more acidic than 8.3, IT IS STILL ALKALINE! 

Just stop with the nonsense please.

Thirst Mutilator's picture

Hell yea!... Just think, when it gets down to 6.8 to 6.0, we can grow fucking tomatoes in it...

Flakmeister's picture

I don;t think the oyster farmers would agree with your dubious use of semantics...

Just what would you call an increase in pH?? 


Thirst Mutilator's picture

Save the ERSTERS!!! [That's how you say it in BAL-MER]


Bel Air = BLAIR

Down to the ocean = DOWNEY OCEAN

Highlandtown = HALLANTAHN

pavement = PAYMENT

"O's" = The Balmer Orioles


Star Spangled Banner = "O"!!! say can you see that Star Spangled Banner yet wave... Heard loudly at any AWAY game where the Orioles or Ravens are playing during the national anthem...

smlbizman's picture

i dont knows use was from bawlmore hon....sadly me toos....

Farqued Up's picture

A more BASIC solution if the pH goes up, it would be less acidic. BTW, several people a year die on the Gulf Coast from oysters, nothing more than shit filters, barely classified as a living animal. If you survive them, they are great fare with a frosty mug of brew. I quit them a few years ago, scared of them. 

taggaroonie's picture

Good data maunfacturing, Serfs Up. Alkalinity in any given part of the ocean can change by that much in minutes, or if you change testing location by mere metres. There is also the question called buffering - to which I'm sure you've got a trite and dishonest reply.

Serfs are what you want to turn the population into.

Flakmeister's picture

Projecting are we?


Time series of: (a) atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa (in parts per million volume, ppmv) (red ), surface ocean pH (cyan), and pCO2 (?atm) (tan) at Ocean Station ALOHA in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean (From Doney et al., Annual Review of Marine Science, 2009 1: 169-92)

A Nanny Moose's picture

Outlaw Volcanoes!!!! Because what happens at an active volcano is a representative sample for the rest of the ocean...being a near total dead zone with all that fire, acids, and newly deposited lava flows.

How do you like your plankton? Barbeque style?

Yeah....so I call bullshit on those whose though processes are entirely too linear.

Flakmeister's picture


Do you really think that you are more of an expert than the entire scientific community? It certainly appears so...

ClassicalLib17's picture

"Do you really think that you are more of an expert than the entire scientific community? It certainly appears so"...

Do you really think that you are more of an expert than the entire GOVERNMENT FUNDED scientific bureaucratic, regulatory vested interests? It certainly appears so... 

There, that should fix it.  Keep your comments grounded in the truth.

Flakmeister's picture

It wasn't me that claimed a paper was wrong for completely asinine reasons...

Here is a more complete list of papers that agree with what I posted


And this one in particular


Now run along, you are out of your league...

The Joker's picture

That's right Flak, the ENTIRE scientific community believes in AGW.

And that's when you know the argument is over.  Why do you guys always resort to that crap.

Flakmeister's picture

Oh, please do list those academic/scientific institutions that do not agree with the conclusion that we are responsible for the observed global warming over the past 150 years or so...

We are all ears and the ball is in your court...

ClassicalLib17's picture

97% of scientists believe what?  I may only have a high school education, and a poor student at that, but I'm smart enough to question what I read from the self described experts. 


Flakmeister's picture

Hee, hee, hee...

You must practice self-delusion to be so good at it...

NidStyles's picture

Well, it's better than practicing the art of shilling. It's obvious that you're horrible at it.


Go figure a self-professed petro engineer support the global warming meme that would drive up the cost of his only product in the marketplace.

Flakmeister's picture

You really do not a fucking clue what I do, do you?

NidStyles's picture

Oh, you've changed you mind again?



A Nanny Moose's picture

Fallacy of Special Pleading. Please name those institutions which are free of funding from sources that support AGW/AGCC. PLease also provide data about global temps over the last 300,000 years, and let me know if you "feel like a threat...to the planet...today"

Flakmeister's picture

Sorry, read the fine print on that fallacy, doesn't apply if the people being appealed to are the recognized experts, 

Do I need to remind you of the BEST collaboration funded in no small part by the Kochs... You know, the one that was going to set shit straight according to WUWT...


Now run along with your strawmen

Farqued Up's picture

I'm tired of being cold, the food will grow faster in richer CO2 and I really don't care if NYC goes 10 ft. under water. It needs a good flushing but the bad thing is it will disperse the two legged rats to pollute other welfare dens. Bet our asses they won't disperse to Detroit, the parasites have killed that host. There are thousands of other serfdom taxers that are on life support

Global warming is another plot by the private property haters to control every aspect of our lives. The only difference in freedom and slavery is private property rights. We are already 1/2 slaves to the evil taxes, while the collectors and manipulators are siphoning off the fruits of our labor. Hey, they are rioting in Greece due to the parasites having to lose their bennies. Coming soon to the other PIIGS but probably France will crash first.

Put the popcorn in the microwave but to get the non-MSM near truth you will have to stream RT. Fox is a POS and the others are total lies.


A Nanny Moose's picture

Oooh...Combo logical fallacy. Argument ad populum with a side of Appeal to Authority.

I did sleep at a Holiday Inn express last night. I have also been fortunate enough to hang (a.k.a. discuss) with some pretty severe academics at Cal Tech who admit that we don't have the answers. All we have is what we know. Zealotry in support of what we know is nothing more than religion.

roddy6667's picture

If all these scientists and professors who are supposedly making independent scientific decisions based only on the science were what they claim to be. Almost 100% of them are sucking on the government teat with their salaries and grants. If they didn't parrot the Manmade Global Warming mantra they would be out of work in a heartbeat.

The "Climate Research Unit" at the University of East Anglia receives over $20 million  in grants a year. Talk about a fucking gravy train! This was the school in the Climategate scandal where they were caught redhanded scuttling the peer review process.

They are all whores.

Drachma's picture

That's rich. You attempt to portray a very complex physio-chemical system as "simple chemistry", then add a childish insult, and then cite problems with U.S. oyster hatcheries as proof of the non-problem of ocean acidification. Your "simple" equation is far from reality. Please stop obfuscating.

NidStyles's picture

Flak is a shill, always has been. It just took a few months for everyone to catch on.

Flakmeister's picture

And you are still a babbling idiot with acute verbal diarrhea...

Get that "heat multiplier" thingie sorted out yet?

NidStyles's picture

Learn how to read yet? It's obvious you can't make a rational argument already. Three years and you're still relying on ad-oms thinking they will rattle my cage here. It hasn't worked so far hero, get a clue.

Againstthelie's picture

But if plant nutrition CO2 is not the problem, how could they make you accept spraying tens of thousands of tons of aluminium, barium, strontium into the air to "cool the planet" with geoengineering?

And who would need aluminium resistant patents on plants?

And how could you tax the air otherwise, without touching the EXPONENTIAL GROWTH PROBLEM because of compound interest on debt based money?

Skateboarder's picture

There's gotta be a twist for the clicks to come in.