Electric Vehicles in China Pollute More Than Gas-Fueled Cars


The use of electric cars in China produces more particulate matter pollution than gasoline-fueled vehicles, according to a new study.

In an analysis of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, U.S. researchers found that the power generated to run electric vehicles produces significantly greater particulate matter emissions because 80 percent of China’s electricity comes from coal-burning power plants. While those plants are typically located far from population centers, the researchers nevertheless found that the difference in pollution is so great that electric vehicles are still more harmful to the public health per-kilometer traveled than conventional vehicles.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, emphasizes that electric vehicles are a cleaner option if powered by a clean energy source.

“In China and elsewhere, it is important to focus on deploying electric vehicles in cities with cleaner electricity generation and focusing on improving emissions controls in higher polluting power sectors,” said Chris Cherry, a researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and lead author of the study.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

About Author

Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.


  1. This is exactly why the Chinese are installing hundreds of thousands of consumer and small business owned solar rooftop units within the next few years. They will be riding on the free, clean energy of the sun way before Americans break the bonds of an oil and coal soaked congress.


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