Ottawa’s New Electric Car

Mayor Watson yesterday accepted the keys to the first electric car to be added to the City of Ottawa’s fleet.

How big a deal is this for climate change? Considering that City of Ottawa operations amount to less than 2% of the carbon footprint of the city as a whole, not too much. Still, it’s a good thing. We should use the opportunity to congratulate the city and call for more, and more meaningful, actions to fight carbon emissions.

Putting aside the minute fraction of the carbon footprint that one vehicle represents, it’s worth noting that a car that runs on energy it gets from being plugged in still has to draw its energy from somewhere. In Ontario about 20% of electricity is generated from the burning of fossil fuels. In the case of the Chevy Volt, for in-city trips the car will likely be able to run on electricity alone, but if it depletes its batteries (after about 60 km) an onboard generator kicks in. The onboard generator of course needs fuel, so if that happens too often then carbon emissions begin to add up.

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