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"BEVs are cleaner" - Union of Concerned Scientists


Active Member
Nov 12, 2006

From cradle to grave, BEVs are cleaner. On average,BEVs representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing are taken into consideration. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of average driving.

Their "two most popular BEVs" used in the modelling exercises are the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S85 (no P, no D)

The report also uses "EV" to include PHEVs
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Thank you for this post. IMHO this is the most informed, comprehensive, and important study for our future as a species. This is from a group that originally condemned electrics, not knowing enough and then made a later study giving ammunition to Fox News which tried to show Teslas as coal fired, polluting cars.

We now need a conservative think tank to review the subject and write an objective study. I expect that it will mirror the UoCS.


Custom Warming Stripes wrap.
Mar 18, 2009
I think you're confusing UoCS with IEEE... I don't recall UoCS ever taking a negative view of EVs....

+1, I believe you are mixing them up with someone else.

Regarding the article, it is a great example of how EVs are getting cleaner over time.
They first did the report in 2012 using 2009 grid data. Then an update last year, and this update using more recent 2012 grid data.


Well-Known Member
Aug 18, 2012
Thanks nwdriver for that link. I too was confused that it was UoCS are the ones that slammed EVs.

That IEEE paper released in 2013 had the following remark:

"Others are more supportive, including the Union of Concerned Scientists. Its 2012 report [PDF] on the issue, titled “State of Charge,” notes that charging electric cars yields less CO2 than even the most efficient gasoline vehicles. The report’s senior editor, engineer Don Anair, concludes: “We are at a good point to clean up the grid and move to electric vehicles.”
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Active Member
Feb 27, 2013
This report provides a good starting basis, but is still very wrong when looking specifically at a Tesla Model S. The primary problem is that they modeled a lithium cobalt oxide battery like the Roadster's using weight and carbon intensity given by known-to-be wrong on the high side research papers. The report isn't intended to provide the results of a Model S or a Leaf, only a BEVs like them in a broad way. They did not do sensitivity analysis with the released Mercedes LCA report that has an actual Tesla drivetrain. It is likely that their battery production emissions figure is roughly 3-4 times higher than an actual Model S.

Also, the report does not seem to address PM2.5 or NO2 emissions, which should also be addressed. Further, nighttime charging throws everything for a loop. The marginal electricity production at super off peak may be significantly better or worse than the average mix.


Active Member
Feb 13, 2013
I think you're confusing UoCS with IEEE... I don't recall UoCS ever taking a negative view of EVs....

UCS authored this report, whose take-away was EVs aren't any cleaner than some gas cars:

The study was re-used in multiple anti-EV contexts, including just last week:Study: EV-related emissions no better than 35-mpg car in some states | LeftLaneNews

By neglecting practical solutions, and jumping too much on "none of the above", the Union of Concerned Scientists hurts the environment, as far as I'm concerned. It is through their efforts, and others, that we give carbon-intensive natural gas high status in U.S. carbon policy, while ignoring the CO2 that will inevitably replace closing nuclear facilities. They would rather throw out the bath water, as the results of that study, and its stale data, was to ultimately arm those arguing against the adoption of EVs.

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