How Green Are Electric Cars? Well...
It all depends on how you charge it.
This NYT's article looks at a hypothetical situation in which two electric Nissan Leaf's drive the same distance in light traffic in two different parts of America. One might assume they are both being good and 'green' and doing their part. But, they produce wildly different levels of carbon emissions, with one being comparable with a regular (though quite efficient) petrol car. Why, you ask? Because electric cars charge using electricity which comes from power plants, which - depending where you are - are either clean renewable stations, or more likely, filthy coal power plants.
This is alarmingly relevant to Australia. We don't exactly have world leading renewable technology powering our little island nation (unlike California it seems, the example in the article). We have monstrous old coal plants relying on black and brown coal.
Even if every car on our roads were electric, all we'd be doing is amping up our reliance on coal. Down in Victoria, with Baillieu attempting to reverse 20 years of gradual growth in sustainable technology, we may as well just resign ourselves to the fact that the big polluters have won and all buy Humvee's.
For those that haven't given up hope, the story really proves that if we want a sustainable future we have to change our base-load power supply. We have to ditch coal and embrace renewable's - everything else is a band-aid on a bullet wound.
Read the story in full detail at the NYT here.