I hate articles like this that say things like “Teslas have the potential to save the planet!”.  Teslas may be preventing you from doing things to actually save the planet. Here’s the math: Teslas are a horribly inefficient way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Yes, Teslas use less CO2.  It costs you about $660.00* per ton of carbon saved.

The average Tesla uses about 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year less than an equivalent Civic (see here, here, and here).  Over the course of five years, after a higher price and lower gas consumption, you can expect the Tesla to cost about $5,000 more.  That’s approximately $0.33 per pound of carbon saved, or $660.00 per ton.

You can reduce carbon for $4.94* per ton.

If instead you gave $5,000 to the charity cooleffect.org, which gives cookstoves to families in Uganda, you would offset 134 times more carbon.  Ignoring the tax benefits of giving to charity, which only make the contrast more impressive. How do cookstoves save carbon?  They reduce wood and charcoal use in developing countries.

While helping children be healthier and improving gender equality.

Oh, and by the way, they improve children’s health because they inhale less smoke.  And virtually all of these projects make it a priority to employ women who are building the stoves locally. Not passionate about this particular project?  There are other efficient ways to donate for carbon reduction, including tree planting, capturing methane, and more.  Browse their website for ideas!

Social signaling matters.  But are you doing this for the right reasons?

I get the signaling value of driving an electric car.  And Teslas are beautiful, quiet, and fun to drive.  But if your priority is reducing CO2, don’t you want to pick the lowest hanging fruit? In other words, consider whether you are the sort of person who wants to be supporting this:

Or this:

For more insights, sign up for my weekly newsletter!