A State-by-State Roadmap To Climate-Friendly Automobiles


The U.S.’s continued reliance on coal and natural gas to generate electricity makes efficient gasoline-powered vehicles a lower-carbon alternative to electric vehicles in most states, according to a new report by Climate Central.

In an analysis of life-cycle emissions from vehicles, based on how electricity is generated in each state, researchers found that the hybrid Toyota Prius remains a more fuel-efficient option than the all-electric Nissan Leaf in 36 states because the electricity used to charge the Leaf in most states comes largely from the burning of fossil fuels.

In fact, the Climate Central study said that in the 10 states where electricity generation is most heavily reliant on coal, 20 hybrid and fuel-efficient gas-powered cars produce fewer CO2 emissions than the Leaf.

While the Leaf produces considerably lower CO2 emissions in states that are heavily reliant on nuclear or hydroelectric power — including Connecticut and Idaho, respectively — the report’s authors say the findings suggest the importance of “fuel-efficient, gasoline-powered vehicles as a practical, immediate, and technologically viable” strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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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 Comment

  1. This study ignores states like Texas with open electricity markets, where it’s easy to fuel your electric car with 100% wind power.