Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to renewable energy and improve the climate situation. In 2021, the global fleet of Tesla vehicles, energy storage, and solar panels enabled its customers to avoid emitting 8.4 million metric tons of CO2e, the manufacturer said in a new Impact Report.
When we talk about climate change, we tend to portray CO2 as the biggest cause. But carbon dioxide is not the only cause of rising temperatures. Carbon dioxide is just one of several greenhouse gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor that contribute to global warming. CO2e is a measure created by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to make the effects of different greenhouse gases comparable.
CO2e essentially describes the global warming potential of all greenhouse gases. In other words, the impact of various greenhouse gases is expressed as the amount of CO2 that would lead to the same warming. Simply put, CO2e collects all greenhouse gases in one place. Tesla used this metric in its 2021 Impact Report to show the big picture of whether a campaign is performing correctly given the life cycles of the products it makes.
According to the data provided, the 6.8 million metric tons of vehicle CO2e savings estimate is based on the net CO2e savings during the use-phase of a Tesla vehicle compared to an ICE vehicle with a real-world fuel economy of ~24 mpg (of which 0.9 million metric tons was avoided through annual renewables matching for the global Supercharger network and home charging in California). The 1.6 million metric tons of solar + storage CO2e savings estimate is based on CO2e avoided through generation of zero-emission electricity from Tesla solar panels, including energy stored and later dispatched from the company's energy storage products. In these figures, the company reflected the geographic distribution of its deliveries (both automotive and solar), grid mix at the country, state, and province level and upstream emissions are reflected in these figures.
Tesla also calculated the lifetime fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of a car with an internal combustion engine against a Tesla car.
The manufacturer emphasizes that burned fossil fuel is extremely difficult to decarbonize as carbon capture is not economically viable today.
However, an important difference from an ICE car is that the production and lifetime use of EVs is possible to decarbonize using well-established technologies. The battery pack is recycled at the end of life and used to build a brand-new battery pack, over and over again.
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