Are Electric Cars Cool for Cities?

Climate change is heating up our planet, due to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, and it turns out that our nation’s city dwellers are feeling the heat even more than our country cousins.

Michigan State’s Jianguo “Jack” Liu is one of the authors of a new study which identifies some hidden benefits of electric vehicles for addressing climate change. He says we must take a big picture approach to addressing climate change solutions, considering the gravity of our situation: “Heat waves kill, and in terms of climate change, even one degree can make a difference.” Liu, together with coauthors from Illinois’ Argonne National Laboratory and China’s Hunang University, have made some unexpected connections:  replacing conventional vehicles with electric ones that emit less heat may decrease urban heat intensity, as well as the amount of electricity used to power air conditioners in our cities’ businesses and homes. And they believe that the benefits demonstrated in their Beijing study will translate to other cities around the world. This is good news, especially for our largest cities, which are warming at twice the rate of the globe and experiencing more deaths from heat waves than all other forms of extreme weather combined.

Our city leaders must act. As community leaders and policymakers responsible for protecting the health and saftey of our constitutents, it’s critical that we think about integrating electric vehicle use and infrastructure – together with smart public transportation and livable city strategies – within climate change plans which ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions, smog pollution, and extreme heat in our urban areas.

A surprising benefit of electric cars: Cooler cities

By Michael CaseyCBS News | March 19, 2015

Electric vehicles are attractive as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down on smog and even noise pollution in urban areas. Now, a new study suggests they might provide another surprising benefit: cooling down sweltering cities.

The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports on Thursday, deduced that switching from conventional gas-burning vehicles to electric ones would have a positive impact on a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect, which refers to the observation that cities tend to be hotter than surrounding rural areas.

“The replacement of conventional vehicles by electrical vehicles can reduce heat emission in urban areas,” lead author Canbing Li, of China’s Hunan University, told CBS News.

Looking at the smog-filled city of Beijing, Li and his fellow authors modeled what it would have meant if such a switch had been done back in 2012 during an especially hot summer.

First, they calculated that electric vehicles emit only 19.8 percent of the heat of a conventional vehicle per mile.

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