Electric vehicles produce less carbon dioxide than petrol cars across the globe, even if electricity generation involves substantial amounts of fossil fuel, according to a study which projects that in 2050 every second car on the streets could be electric.
Researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands found that under current conditions, driving an electric car is better for the climate than conventional petrol cars in 95 per cent of the world.
The only exceptions are places like Poland, where electricity generation is still mostly based on coal, the researchers said.
Average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70 per cent lower than petrol cars in countries like Sweden and France -- which get most of their electricity from renewables and nuclear -- and around 30 per cent lower in the UK, they said.
The researchers said in a few years, even inefficient electric cars will be less emission-intensive than most new petrol cars in most countries, as electricity generation is expected to be less carbon-intensive than today.
The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, projects that in 2050, every second car on the streets could be electric, the researchers said.
This would reduce global CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatonnes per year, which is equivalent to the total current CO2 emissions of Russia, they said.
The study also looked at electric household heat pumps, and found they too produce lower emissions than fossil-fuel alternatives in 95 per cent of the world. Heat pumps could reduce global CO2 emissions in 2050 by up to 0.8 gigatonnes per year, according to the researchers.