How green are electric vehicles?

It seems like Lithium-ion battery-powered automobiles are going to be the future. All major carmakers have released or have plans to launch electric vehicles. However these vehicles still need to be charged and the way to charge them is largely powered by fossil fuels. So is electric mobility more environment friendly at present?

Footprint of an Electric Vehicle vs Petrol Vehicle is the function of following two

  1. Carbon Footprint of the electricity used to charge the battery
  2. Environmental Footprint of the battery + battery replacement.

In case the battery is charged with 100% renewable electricity say solar or wind, studies show that total gram of CO2 equivalent per km might be 125g vs 2gm. (1) (2)

Even in case, if the battery is recharged with from electricity generated from Oil, the closest parallel to run a petrol car,
Petrol car generates 125 gm CO2 equivalent per km vs 91 gm from Pure electric car with electricity from Oil

Now obviously shifting entirely to electric cars without decarbonising the electric grid is not a half solution. But parallel steps and progress in both directions can accelerate and complement each electrification of mobility sector and decarbonisation of electricity grid.

As far as batteries are concerned, the pollution from Lithium and scarcity of Li, is def a concern, but as the progress is made on electric cars and battery technologies, and economies of scale is achieved, that problem is likely to minimize and solve a lot.

However, for Electric Mobility, the impact for transitioning buses, scooters, and trucks instead of cars is really high.

Hope this helps !!