New Study: Electric vehicles do little to reduce CO2 emissions

Subsidizing the purchase of electric cars in Canada is an inefficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and it’s not cost-effective, according to a Montreal Economic Institute study released Thursday.

“It’s just a waste,” said Germain Belzile, one of the authors of the study, which examined electric vehicle subsidies offered by Canada’s two biggest provinces Ontario and Quebec, which can rise to as much as a third of a vehicle’s purchase price, depending on the model.

“Not only do these programs cost taxpayers a fortune, but they also have little effect on GHG emissions,” he said.

The government of Quebec has set a goal of having one million electric and hybrid vehicles on its roads by 2030, up from 6,000 currently. Ontario has the same objective.

On this basis, said Belzile, would fall by about 3.6 percent in Quebec and 2.4 percent in Ontario.

The two provinces have said they aim to reduce CO2 emissions by about 37 percent by 2030, from 1990 levels.

Quebec is offering rebates of up to Can$8,000 for the purchase of new electric or rechargeable hybrid cars—which are significantly more expensive than their gas-guzzling counterparts—while Ontario is offering to refund Can$14,000 of the price.

The study estimates that these subsidies cost taxpayers Can$523 per tonne of GHG not emitted in Ontario and Can$288 in Quebec.

By comparison, a cap and trade system for big polluters in Quebec and the US state of California, which Ontario is due to join soon, costs a mere Can$18 per tonne.

In subsidizing electric vehicle purchases, Ontario and Quebec end up spending up to 29 times and 16 times, respectively, the carbon market price for each tonne of GHGs eliminated.

“Common sense, both economically and ecologically speaking, argues in favor of reducing these subsidies, and even eliminating them,” the study concludes.


Comments (6)

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    Teslas are fine electric cars as far as that goes. However, if they are truly viable they should be able to compete in the free market without taxpayer subsidies. At the very least, it’s time to take off the public funded training wheels.

    Likewise, every transportation choice involves trade-offs, and they all create CO2 – even walking. An enormous part of the whole eco-movement is about sanctimonious posturing and and self righteous chest thumping over just who is “saving the planet” the most.

    In this case I don’t accept the premises that CO2 is a pollutant, and that CO2 is destroying earth’s climate. All that chest thumping is just stupid.

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    I’m fed up with this hooey. It originates in the cities, armpits and exhaust pipes everywhere. Cement and pavement cooks brains.
    Toronto pols have been pushing subsidized public transit in vain forever. Turns out the middle class don’t like the look and smell of poverty.Now it’s subsidized slot cars. Pathetic.

  • Avatar

    David Lewis


    The article ended with saying lets use common sense. Lets take common sense one step further and realize that there is no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Looking the carbon dioxide concentrations and comparing it to warming, there is very little correlation.

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      Richard Binns


      The correlation between CO2 and temperature rise is a bit like that between global obesity increase and global increase in use of gymnasiums – they rising together but there is very little evidence for links either way!

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    Michael van der Riet


    If I had to choose between an electric and a gas/diesel version of the same car at the same price, it wouldn’t be an easy decision. In North America, the fuel cost per kilometer of a gasoline-powered car is about four times that of an electric car. Read David MacKay’s SEWTHA and do the math for yourself. The problem with owning an electric car is the batteries: their cost and their limited life. Musk can’t make the Model 3 affordable because the batteries cost close to those of a Model S. That’s why he built the Gigafactory, to try chop a few per cent off the cost. For the average electric car owner, the lifetime savings on fuel may not be enough to compensate for the higher purchase price and lower residual value.

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    As long as governments have no limit credit cards to run up tax payer debt the “renewable ” industry will be happy to take the money .
    Why would they actually have to produce cost competitive vehicles
    when they get bailed out by politicians ?

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