Electric car subscription company elmo has conducted a thought experiment to estimate how much we could reduce our CO₂ emissions if, overnight, we swapped every car in the UK to an electric car.
According to the company’s calculations, internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in the UK produce 64 billion tonnes of CO₂ emissions from the tailpipe every year. Although car manufacturers are committed to plug-in hybrid or electric car sales by 2030, it appears that we’re still a long way from hitting the UK’s CO₂ emissions target of net zero by 2050.
elmo’s thought experiment worked out the emission savings that could be made if we swapped every ICE car in the UK to an electric car overnight. If this were to happen, 54 billion tonnes of CO₂ would be prevented from entering the atmosphere every year.
In total, the UK emits 424.5 billion tonnes of CO₂ each year. However, if all ICE cars in the UK were switched to electric cars overnight, we could reduce our total CO₂ emissions by 13%.
In order to calculate how much CO₂ could be saved from moving all ICE cars to electric, elmo used the average CO₂ emissions produced from ICE cars, multiplying this figure by the number of ICE cars in the UK, and giving a total figure for CO₂ emissions from ICE cars per year. The company then multiplied the volume of CO₂ emissions produced by electric cars by the total number of ICE cars in the UK to calculate the CO₂ emissions that could be saved if all ICE cars were electric.
With the UK’s current goal to see CO₂ emissions slashed 78% by 2035, elmo’s thought experiment shows that the transition from ICE vehicles to EVs could play a big role in this.
To help put this into context, 54 billion tonnes of CO₂ is the equivalent emissions to heating more than 20 million homes, building more than 840,000 new homes, running more than 13,000 wind turbines, the total CO₂ emissions of more than 5.4 million people in the UK every year, or more than 17 million tonnes of waste being recycled instead of going into landfill.
Even better, by removing ICE vehicles from UK roads, we could help save 32,000 lives a year currently lost as a result of air pollution.
While the UK still has some distance to go before we start to see a dramatic drop in CO₂ emissions, new government schemes and technologies are advancing, over 500,000 pure-electric cars are now on UK roads, public charging infrastructure is growing steadily, and it certainly appears that we are moving in the right direction.
Elmo’s thought experiment has highlighted the possibilities we have in reducing our carbon footprint with the shift from fossil fuel powered cars to electric cars. The company’s subscription service allows motorists to switch to electric cars without having a long-term commitment, with a subscription package that includes insurance, maintenance, breakdown, road tax and congestion charges, as well as the car itself.