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The production of electric cars is increasing worldwide, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions. But manufacturing lithium-ion batteries produces significant CO2, and mining the needed metals creates additional environmental issues. Governments are considering constructing greener electrical grids and recycling programs to extend battery life cycles, but available data is fragmented. This briefing by the International Council on Clean Transportation urges people to look beyond electric vehicles and discover ways to build a better battery.


Electric vehicles and their batteries present an environmental conundrum.

Electric and hybrid cars are popular because they reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. As their prices drop, manufacturers are turning out millions of them. To meet increasing demands, more lithium-ion batteries must be produced. But battery manufacturing itself creates significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Studies of battery life cycles have produced a wide “range of values” for each vehicle’s carbon footprint, depending upon how and where it was produced. 

There is currently no reliable way to assess the environmental life cycle impacts of electric versus conventional vehicles.

Each environmental life cycle impact study’s methodology influences its conclusions, and data from manufacturing facilities around the globe varies. But one conclusion is clear: A large share...

About the Author

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) is an independent nonprofit US organization that provides technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators.

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