It’s Getting Harder To Make The Long Tailpipe Argument In Europe

Powoer Plant Photo by lady_lbrty. CC 2.0


It’s been a favorite criticism of plug-in vehicles for a long, long time: who cares if there are no tailpipe emissions if you’re just using dirty coal to power your car. Well, thanks to new rules for coal-fired power stations in Europe, that argument is about to get much, much weaker. The EU adopted new standards that will put stricter limits on the emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM). A release by the European Environmental Bureau says that, “with coal already in dramatic decline, the uncertainty created by stricter limits on pollution leaves closure as the only logical end for coal plants.”

In other words, cleaner environmental rules are working to get coal plants shut down, which will make more room for clean renewable energy. This will only help make all of the electric vehicles driving on European roads cleaner tomorrow than they are today. These new rules are just one way that the reasons to rail against electric vehicles are getting weaker and weaker all the time. See our collection of the (fading) arguments against EVs here.

Press Release:

New rules hasten end for Europe’s dirtiest power plants

Europe’s most polluting power plants, including many large coal-fired power stations, will be forced to clean up or close down thanks to new EU rules adopted today. The revised standards demand reductions in toxic emissions, yet businesses and governments appear unprepared.

EU-wide compliance with the new rules could cost as much as €15.4bn, and 82% of coal capacity expected to be online in 2021 is currently failing to meet the minimum standards. With coal already in dramatic decline, the uncertainty created by stricter limits on pollution leaves closure as the only logical end for coal plants. [1]

The new standards [2] include tighter rules for emissions of nitrous oxides (NOx), sulphur dioxide (SO2) and tiny pieces of harmful dust known as ‘particulate matter’ (PM). These toxic substances are linked to a host of health and environmental issues including the development of asthma in children and polluting of Europe’s air and water.

132 cities in 23 countries are breaching EU laws on air quality. [3] Worsening urban air pollution has been described as a ‘public health crisis’ and has led to growing demands from communities for urgent action.  Ensuring large power plants use the best available techniques to reduce pollution will lead to significant reductions in emissions and have a positive effect on air quality across Europe, including in cities.

The new rules were adopted despite the opposition of major coal-addicted economies. At the time of the vote in April, Germany was heavily criticised by health, environmental and climate groups for joining a ‘toxic bloc’ of eastern European countries in opposing the new limits. [4]

Today’s publication provides a safety net of minimum expectations for Europe’s worst polluters, but more importantly it signals that the end for coal in Europe is looming. EU governments now have a maximum of four years to adapt their energy systems to the new limits and ensure workers and communities facing an uncertain economic future are empowered to transition to new livelihoods.


[1] Report on Hard Coal/Lignite Fired Power Plants in EU28 by DNV GL for the European Climate Foundation. 16 June 2017.

[2] Commission to review permits of Large Combustion Plants, European Commission Press Release, 31 July 2017

[3] Commission warns Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom of continued air pollution breaches, European Commission Press Release, 15 Feb 2017

[4] Cleaner air the winner after Germany fails to block new EU rules, EEB Press Release, 28 Apr 2017

Source: European Environmental Bureau

Categories: General


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38 Comments on "It’s Getting Harder To Make The Long Tailpipe Argument In Europe"

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In my experience those who make the long tailpipe argument aren’t concerned much with the validity of it. For them it’s still really easy to make the argument.

Very true!
Even harder to make their case here in US but they are persistent ignorant mfers so they keep trying. Even in big coal consumption states one would think it would be easier to control pollution at just one source (the power plant) rather than at millions of individual cars…not to mention that these power plants are usually outside of the densely populated areas hence having a much lower impact on individual’s health. Then again, I don’t get paid by Big Oil….maybe that’s the difference.

Republican states, especially in coal states, KILL JOBS. They have all kinds of rules that restrict the sale of Solar and Wind.

What does that do? It creates an Economic RECESSION in Republican states, because all the new jobs are in Solar and Wind. Solar now has more employees than the coal and oil industry combined. But, not in red States.

So, you have to ask your Republican Rep, does he represent your best interests or a coal companies best interests.
Do you want a job, or do you want to collect unemployment and welfare in a Republican state.

Solar in Cali employs over 100k now…talk about job crating industries.

And they always forget that ICE cars have long tailpipe too. Fossil fuels generate pollution even before they get into your fuel tank.

Not only that, but they also use a lot of electricity when converting oil into refined products. that makes the tailpipe twice as long

Fossil Fuels use both Fossil Fuels AND Electricity, in just about Every Step along the way: Investigative Research trying to find the sources; Drilling to Reach the Sources; Extraction & Pumping; Storage; Shipping (By Pipeline, Rail Car, or By Ship); Storage; Refining; Storage (Again); Shipping (By Rail Car, Pipeline, or by Trucks, and sometimes, by ships, again); Storage (Once Again, in diverse local Tank Farms); Delivery to Fuelling Stations by local Tanker Trucks; and finally – in Pumping it into your Vehicle!

At each Step, either additional Fossil Fuels, or Electricity, or Both, are used and consumed in the process! And for every Gallon pumped into a users vehicle, some energy will be attributed to each of the above steps, over, and over, and over!

It is not Just the Refining that consumes Electricity, too, as there are also Security, Lighting, Offices, etc., along the way!

Only ignorance or bias allow the long tailpipe argument to be made.

The right wing is the source of all the Incompetence in the World, because they’re paid to be.

They’re clearly NOT Deep Thinkers, because:
If you’re powering your EV with coal, you’re ALSO powering your Refinery with Coal. Meaning, it’s impossible to increase coal emissions with an EV, when an EV is one less fossil fuel vehicle. You lose forever 15 years of fuel sales, from refineries powered by coal.

With left wing lunacy, we wouldn’t be driving EV at all, because they want everyone to party like it’s 1799. It’s not about left vs right, but logical argument against idiocy.

In fact, in some parts of US, EVs emit more than ICE hybrids that get 60 MPG.

No. OLD DATA. The grid has cleaned up. US coal is now on 30% of grid power.

Not quite 30% and check out Utah. Coal use is very regional in the US.

Hey we are all (mostly) on the same side here regarding EV and coal. We are not necessarily on the same side regarding every other thing. So color calling isn’t really helpful.

I live in a Trump state and we have the 3rd highest installation of solar power in the US. Most people consider Texas quite Red (burgundy even?) and I believe they have the #1 title for wind.

Before 2010, there was a pretty powerful blue politician from WV who probably loved coal.

Anyone who think Democrats don’t take money from fossil fuel interests needs to check donor lists. I’m not saying there isn’t a bias but they are all crooks.

The answer of course does not necessarily involve bigger government or more taxation.

UTAH is controlled by a coal company than, and it’s costing Republicans there jobs, and polluting their water, and fish with mercury, and coal ash runoff.

Allowing a Corporation to control your state can kill you.

“In fact, in some parts of US, EVs emit more than ICE hybrids that get 60 MPG”
If i remember correctly oil extraction and refinement was not included in that calculation…please do correct me if i’m wrong.

It’s funny to see anti-Ev advocates having to compare them with hybrids, a short time ago they compared them with ICEs.
ICE is loosing ground here! Nice!

The real question isn’t how much of a state’s electricity is produced by coal, but rather how dirty *new generation* will be.

If you put 1M EVs on the road in a state, will you get more coal plants built? It’s almost guaranteed that we’ll just burn more natural gas in CCGT plants that are currently sitting idle at night, since right now that’s cheaper than coal. Wind, too.

So even dirty states will likely get pollution benefit from EVs.

“In fact, in some parts of US, EVs emit more than ICE hybrids that get 60 MPG.”

That’s not a “fact”, it’s a lazy, misleading or even dishonest comparison ignoring most or all of the energy used to extract, transport, refine, and distribute the petroleum and its refined products. The comparison also is misleading or dishonest in how it counts carbon emissions from the grid; for example, nuclear power plants are counted at only 33-35% efficient, just like the worst coal-fired plants, despite the fact that they emit no CO2 or greenhouse gases, and use no fossil fuels, in producing power!

I find it shocking that we even see that misleading claim in an article published at the Union for Concerned Scientists, which you’d think would be more careful with its facts. 🙁

It’s impossible for coal emissions to INCREASE when an EV is a lost ICE sale of 15 years of refinery operation.

It’s often lost in the noise, but both ICE and EV cars live longer then the often quoted 10 years. It’s silly to compare them that way.

And let’s be realistic here, most older ICE vehicles don’t become particularly cleaner by age. Atleast not if the driveway was any indication of it.

“but both ICE and EV cars live longer then the often quoted 10 years”
The main reason for this 10y comparison is the ev battery…which is considered unusable after 10y…probably a faulty assumption.

Maybe in first gen Leafs, but not in any other EV on the market. The batteries have a warranty of 8 years, so they’ll probably last 16-20, because no one warranties a product for it’s actual product life.

Another Fun misapplication of science and economic cost is “Opportunity Cost”. You’ll notice if an EV is a bit more expensive than an ICE car, they’ll get some “economist” to talk about: OH, you should put that extra money on your Mortgage! and you’d make out better. Never measuring the Social benefit of an EV, or the Social Cost of ICE POLLUTION.

And you might notice, Opportunity Cost, never comes up when they’re talking about buying an SUV or a McMansion, also the huge carbon footprint is also never brought up.

IT’s almost as if you’re talking to the devil, and he’s trying to convince you to Never Do Good.

That may be their mantra: NEVER DO GOOD.
Why the right wing is Bankrupt in America.

Nobody pays for social benefits because they want to. It’s all talk. This is why left wing is destroying America. Prez Dump is more left wing than right wing; he wants us to pay higher for “social benefit” of Americans, just like North Korean mantra of self sufficiency through “social benefit”


Forgot to add “EQUALLY” at the end, because that’s what the left wants: equal suffering, because heaven forbid, anyone be less miserable than another.

“From each according to their multi-level marketing schemes,
to each according to their guaranteed return on investment”

-Groucho Marx

Man, I feel sorry for everyone that knows you…

You’ve lost a screw somewhere. LOL. Trump is liberal.
No, left wing actually means corporate’s should not control and poison our food, allow students to go bankrupt to go to college,
for everyone to have healthcare,
and everyone to get training to have a job,
BECAUSE the Nation’s Economy would be STRONGER.
The Economics of JESUS outperform Right Wing Economics, just ask the Kansas FAILURE.

Next time don’t get all worked up. The right wing is dead intellectually, look who you elected.

Hear Hear!
Have you noticed that right wing and corporate democrat warmongers never ask how we will pay another few trillion for another pointless, futile illegal war. They always have money for THAT. They just don’t have money for their own CITIZENS.

“You’ve lost a screw somewhere. LOL. Trump is liberal.”

Yeah, Sparky’s claim that El Trumpo is a “liberal” shows just how extreme his position is.

If you’ve dug yourself into a hole as far as Sparky has, someone who’s merely in the sub-basement appears to be on top of a hill compared to Sparky’s elevation! 😀

Driving an EV or hybrid has a social benefit, and look there’s people doing it. Your “point” isn’t valid.

Also, there has never been a measurement of the long-tail emissions of the oil industry, from the drill-bit to the uranium mines fueling the 2 US Aircraft Carriers stationed off the Straits of Hormuz, off of Saudi Arabia. Even from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

So, the carbon emissions pipeline is VASTLY underestimated.

Because, there is NO CORPORATION funding that study.

The uranium used in aircraft carriers takes little energy to produce. Much more important is all the steel used in building them.

As long as we are cleaning up the grid, the long tailpipe was always stupid. Even in the freak case where a Prius was better than an EV, as the years go by the grid gets cleaner and while the Prius will always burn oil.

If only we could get Germany and Poland onboard. The two big polluters and always standing in the way of a cleaner Europe.

In 2015 EU had 24% of electricity coming from coal, 16% from natural gas, 2% from oil and the rest being clean electricity.

The carbon intensity was 275 g CO2 per kWh in 2014.

Still a long way to go…

The US Aircraft Carrier Group, the George H. W. Bush is stationed in the area of the Straits of Hormuz now. When is the US auto / oil industry going to start paying an Aircraft Tax? Why is the protection of oil export sea lanes a burden to the US tax payer?

Why don’t they handle ALL Costs of PRODUCTION, including the pollution and the protecting cost.

Emissions comparisons are a red herring.
Torque, lack of maintenance and no need for gas stations are the winning points for EVs.