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Electric cars are not a panacea for pollution

Electric cars are not a panacea for pollution

Quebec and Canada are betting heavily on the electrification of transportation to achieve their climate goals. However, if these vehicles emit less carbon dioxide than their combustion engine counterparts, they are not free from all atmospheric pollution, a comparative study just published by the French Agency for Environmental Transformation (ADEME) reveals.

In addition to carbon dioxide (CO .) emissions2) and nitrogen oxides (NOX), gasoline or diesel vehicles produce fine particles, which especially contribute to the formation of urban smog and whose absorption can cause various serious human diseases.

The tightening of pollution control regulations in recent years, both in North America and Europe, has led manufacturers to install increasingly efficient emission filters in order to eliminate particles produced by combustion engines. The result: more than half of the fine particles emitted by today’s road vehicles no longer come from the exhaust, but from the wear of other elements – brakes, tires, and the road -, ADEME notes.

Car pollution “other”

In a report published at the end of April, the agency noted that “recent studies do not show a significant difference in total particulate emissions between long-range electric vehicles and current new thermal vehicles, which emit almost no exhaust particulates.

In Europe, ADEME warns, “Non-exhaust particles emitted from braking systems, tires or roads are now far more prevalent compared to exhaust emissions from petrol and diesel vehicles equipped with a particulate filter. They correspond to more than half of the particles generated by road traffic.”

This trend will increase, and total particulate emissions will not decrease if there are no regulations in place for brake or tire particulate emissions, the French agency adds.

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Regarding the impact that electric cars will have on this trend, she noted that since these vehicles are generally heavier and use wider tires, one cannot count on lower emissions causing regenerative braking, slowing the car using the engine instead of the brakes.

If electric vehicles promise to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from combustion engines, that’s not the case for fine particles outside the exhaust, so ADEME concludes, these factors will continue to affect human health, soils and waterways. “The long-term effects on ecosystems are poorly documented, and the accumulation of this pollution in the food chain raises questions.”

In France, for example, the Energy Transition Agency recommends that the government regulate brake and tire systems more stringently in order to reduce particulate emissions.

weight problem

At home, discouraging the purchase of larger cars would be a first step in the right direction, Équiterre believes.

Example of the all-new GMC Hummer EV from General Motors Bligh: This massive electric utility vehicle weighs at least 4,110 kilograms, nearly four times the weight of an average gasoline sedan (about 1,100 kilograms). The American manufacturer says it has received 65,000 pre-orders for this juggernaut.

In its advertisements, General Motors presents its Hummer as a vehicle for nature-loving adventurers. “It doesn’t make sense to associate this car with nature,” laments Andréanne Brazeau, Équiterre’s mobility analyst. “Electric cars like this are not so discreet, neither in strength nor in terms of materials. Governments rely on electricity to reach their climate goals, but they forget to focus on the weight and dimensions of the vehicles.”

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Équiterre has been attacking car ads for several months, which the organization considers misleading. In these ads, we often make the acronym that says the bigger the car, the safer the car. m . notesme Brazzo. Obviously, the fact that SUVs are also heavier and require longer braking distances is not mentioned.

Like electric cars [le GMC Hummer EV] Not discreet, neither strongly nor in terms of materials. Governments rely on electricity to reach their climate goals, but they forget to focus on the weight and dimensions of vehicles.

In an effort to break this cycle, Équiterre intends to launch an ad campaign on Monday that it hopes will be “provocative” enough to get people to interact. And its theme reveals: “No SUVs for me,” Andre Brazzo.

Équiterre therefore hopes to raise public awareness of the criteria that must be taken into account when buying a car. The organization also wants to consider the strong need to purchase a car. M . explainsme Brazzo. Because at the end of the day, the best solution to solving the issue of car pollution is to reduce its number on the roads.

their number. Then weigh them. and polluting emissions in all its forms. Because, according to studies, electricity alone will not be enough.

Let’s see in the video