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How electric vehicles offered hope as climate challenges grew.

In the midst of a climate crisis, the EV began to gain traction

a photo of workers in an automobile factory working on electric vehicles

Volkswagen employees in Emden, Germany, learn how to produce electric cars, as auto­makers respond to new carbon dioxide emissions limits.

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By Carolyn Gramling

December 22, 2021 at 7:00 am

This was another year of bleak climate news. Record heat waves baked the Pacific Northwest . Wildfires raged in California, Oregon, Washington and neighboring states. Tropical cyclones rapidly intensified in the Pacific Ocean. And devastating flash floods inundated Western Europe and China. Human-caused climate change is sending the world hurtling down a road to more extreme weather events, and we’re running out of time to pump the brakes, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in August ( SN: 9/11/21, p. 8 ).

The world needs to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and fast, if there’s any hope of preventing worse and more frequent extreme weather events. That means shifting to renewable sources of energy — and, importantly, decarbonizing transportation, a sector that is now responsible for about a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

But the path to that cleaner future is daunting, clogged with political and societal roadblocks, as well as scientific obstacles. Perhaps that’s one reason why the electric vehicle — already on the road, already navigating many of these roadblocks — swerved so dramatically into the climate solutions spotlight in 2021.

Just a few years ago, many automakers thought electric vehicles, or EVs, might be a passing fad, says Gil Tal, director of the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis. “It’s now clear to everyone that [EVs are] here to stay.”

Globally, EV sales surged in the first half of 2021, increasing by 160 percent compared with the previous year. Even in 2020 — when most car sales were down due to the COVID-19 pandemic — EV sales were up 46 percent relative to 2019. Meanwhile, automakers from General Motors to Volkswagen to Nissan have outlined plans to launch new EV models over the next decade: GM pledged to go all-electric by 2035, Honda by 2040. Ford introduced electric versions of its iconic Mustang and F-150 pickup truck.

Consumer demand for EVs isn’t actually driving the surge in sales, Tal says. The real engine is a change in supply due to government policies pushing automakers to boost their EV production. The European Union’s toughened CO 2 emissions laws for the auto industry went into effect in 2021, and automakers have already bumped up new EV production in the region. China mandated in 2020 that EVs make up 40 percent of new car sales by 2030. Costa Rica has set official phase-out targets for internal combustion engines.

In the United States, where transportation has officially supplanted power generation as the top greenhouse gas–emitting sector, President Joe Biden’s administration set a goal this year of having 50 percent of new U.S. vehicle sales be electric — both plug-in hybrid and all-electric — by 2030. That’s a steep rise over EVs’ roughly 2.5 percent share of new cars sold in the United States today. In September, California announced that by 2035 all new cars and passenger trucks sold in the state must be zero-emission.

There are concrete signs that automakers are truly committing to EVs. In September, Ford announced plans to build two new complexes in Tennessee and Kentucky to produce electric trucks and batteries. Climate change–related energy crises, such as the February failure of Texas’ power system, may also boost interest in EVs, Ford CEO Jim Farley said September 28 on the podcast Columbia Energy Exchange.

“We’re seeing more extreme weather events with global warming, and so people are looking at these vehicles not just for propulsion but for … other benefits,” Farley said. “One of the most popular features of the F-150 Lightning is the fact that you can power your house for three days” with the truck’s battery.

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Although the EV market is growing fast, it’s still not fast enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals, the International Energy Agency reported this year. For the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — when carbon emissions added to the atmosphere are balanced by carbon removal — EVs would need to climb from the current 5 percent of global car sales to 60 percent by 2030 , the agency found.

As for the United States, even if the Biden administration’s plan for EVs comes to fruition, the country’s transportation sector will still fall short of its emissions targets, researchers reported in 2020 in Nature Climate Change . To hit those targets, electric cars would need to make up 90 percent of new U.S. car sales by 2050 — or people would need to drive a lot less.

And to truly supplant fossil fuel vehicles, electric options need to meet several benchmarks. Prices for new and used EVs must come down. Charging stations must be available and affordable to all, including people who don’t live in homes where they can plug in. And battery ranges must be extended. Average ranges have been improving. Just five or so years ago, cars needed a recharge after about 100 miles; today the average is about 250 miles, roughly the distance from Washington, D.C., to New York City. But limited ranges and too few charging stations remain a sticking point.

Today’s batteries also require metals that are scarce, difficult to access or produced in mining operations rife with serious human rights issues . Although there, too, solutions may be on the horizon, including finding ways to recycle batteries to alleviate materials shortages ( SN: 12/4/21, p. 4 ).

EVs on their own are nowhere near enough to forestall the worst effects of climate change. But it won’t be possible to slow global warming without them.

And in a year with a lot of grim climate news — both devastating extreme events and maddeningly stalled political action — EVs offered one glimmer of hope.

“We have the technology. It’s not dependent on some technology that’s not developed yet,” Tal says. “The hope is that now we are way more willing to [transition to EVs] than at any time before.”

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Can today’s EVs make a dent in climate change?

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Nighttime image of New York City, with the red showing a large population density. “The adoption potential of electric vehicles is remarkably similar across cities, from dense urban areas like New York, to sprawling cities like Houston. This goes against the view that electric vehicles — at least affordable ones, which have limited range — only really work in dense urban centers,” says Jes...

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Nighttime image of New York City, with the red showing a large population density. “The adoption potential of electric vehicles is remarkably similar across cities, from dense urban areas like New York, to sprawling cities like Houston. This goes against the view that electric vehicles — at least affordable ones, which have limited range — only really work in dense urban centers,” says Jes...

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Could existing electric vehicles (EVs), despite their limited driving range, bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change? Researchers at MIT have just completed the most comprehensive study yet to address this hotly debated question, and have reached a clear conclusion: Yes, they can.

The study, which found that a wholesale replacement of conventional vehicles with electric ones is possible today and could play a significant role in meeting climate change mitigation goals, was published today in the journal Nature Energy by Jessika Trancik, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in Energy Studies at MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), along with graduate student Zachary Needell, postdoc James McNerney, and recent graduate Michael Chang SM ’15.

“Roughly 90 percent of the personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced by a low-cost electric vehicle available on the market today, even if the cars can only charge overnight,” Trancik says, “which would more than meet near-term U.S. climate targets for personal vehicle travel.” Overall, when accounting for the emissions today from the power plants that provide the electricity, this would lead to an approximately 30 percent reduction in emissions from transportation. Deeper emissions cuts would be realized if power plants decarbonize over time.

The team spent four years on the project, which included developing a way of integrating two huge datasets: one highly detailed set of second-by-second driving behavior based on GPS data, and another broader, more comprehensive set of national data based on travel surveys. Together, the two datasets encompass millions of trips made by drivers all around the country.

The detailed GPS data was collected by state agencies in Texas, Georgia, and California, using special data loggers installed in cars to assess statewide driving patterns. The more comprehensive, but less detailed, nationwide data came from a national household transportation survey, which studied households across the country to learn about how and where people actually do their driving. The researchers needed to understand “the distances and timing of trips, the different driving behaviors, and the ambient weather conditions,” Needell says.

By working out formulas to integrate the different sets of information and thereby track one-second-resolution drive cycles, the MIT researchers were able to demonstrate that the daily energy requirements of some 90 percent of personal cars on the road in the U.S. could be met by today’s EVs, with their current ranges, at an overall cost to their owners — including both purchase and operating costs — that would be no greater than that of conventional internal-combustion vehicles. The team looked at once-daily charging, at home or at work, in order to study the adoption potential given today’s charging infrastructure.

What’s more, such a large-scale replacement would be sufficient to meet the nation’s stated near-term emissions-reduction targets for personal vehicles’ share of the transportation sector — a sector that accounts for about a third of the nation’s overall greenhouse gas emissions, with a majority of emissions from privately owned, light-duty vehicles.

While EVs have many devotees, they also have a large number of critics, who cite range anxiety as a barrier to transportation electrification. “This is an issue where common sense can lead to strongly opposing views,” Trancik says. “Many seem to feel strongly that the potential is small, and the rest are convinced that is it large.”

“Developing the concepts and mathematical models required for a testable, quantitative analysis is helpful in these situations, where so much is at stake,” she adds.

Those who feel the potential is small cite the premium prices of many EVs available today, such as the highly rated but expensive Tesla models, and the still-limited distance that lower-cost EVs can drive on a single charge, compared to the range of a gasoline car on one tank of gas. The lack of available charging infrastructure in many places, and the much greater amount of time required to recharge a car compared to simply filling a gas tank have also been cited as drawbacks.

But the team found that the vast majority of cars on the road consume no more energy in a day than the battery energy capacity in affordable EVs available today. These numbers represent a scenario in which people would do most of their recharging overnight at home, or during the day at work, so for such trips the lack of infrastructure was not really a concern. Vehicles such as the Ford Focus Electric or the Nissan Leaf — whose sticker prices are still higher than those of conventional cars, but whose overall lifetime costs end up being comparable because of lower maintenance and operating costs — would be adequate to meet the needs of the vast majority of U.S. drivers.

The study cautions that for EV ownership to rise to high levels, the needs of drivers have to be met on all days. For days on which energy consumption is higher, such as for vacations, or days when an intensive need for heating or cooling would sharply curb the EV’s distance range, driving needs could be met by using a different car (in a two-car home), or by renting, or using a car-sharing service.

The study highlights the important role that car sharing of internal combustion engine vehicles could play in driving electrification. Car sharing should be very convenient for this to work, Trancik says, and requires further business model innovation. Additionally, the days on which alternatives are needed should be known to drivers in advance —information that the team’s model “TripEnergy” is able to provide.

Even as batteries improve, there will continue to be a small number of high-energy days that exceed the range provided by electric vehicles. For these days, other powertrain technologies will likely be needed. The study helps policy-makers to quantify the “returns” to improving batteries through investing in research, for example, and the gap that will need to be filled by other kinds of cars, such as those fueled by low-emissions biofuels or hydrogen, to reach very low emissions levels for the transportation sector.

Another important finding from the study was that the potential for shifting to EVs is fairly uniform for different parts of the country. “The adoption potential of electric vehicles is remarkably similar across cities,” Trancik says, “from dense urban areas like New York, to sprawling cities like Houston. This goes against the view that electric vehicles — at least affordable ones, which have limited range — only really work in dense urban centers.”

Jeremy J. Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University who was not involved in this study, says the MIT team’s integration of the GPS and national survey data is a new approach “highlighting the novel idea that regional differences in range requirements are minor for most vehicle-day trips but increase as we move into higher-range trips.” The study, he says, is both “interesting and useful.”

The work was supported by the New England University Transportation Center at MIT, the MIT Leading Technology and Policy Initiative, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, the Charles E. Reed Faculty Initiatives Fund, and the MIT Energy Initiative.

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In an article for The Conservation, Prof. Jessika Trancik elaborates on her recent research showing that electric vehicles can meet the majority of U.S. driving needs. “Improved access to shared, long-range transport, alongside further-advanced batteries and cars and decarbonized electricity, provide a pathway to reaching a largely decarbonized personal vehicle fleet,” Trancik concludes.

MIT researchers have found that electric cars can currently provide enough range for 87 percent of American drivers’ needs on just an overnight charge, writes Robert Ferris for CNBC. “One key finding is that electric vehicle replacement seems to be almost equally feasible in any American city, regardless of climate, topography, or size,” explains Ferris. 

Oscar Williams of The Huffington Post writes that MIT researchers have found that electric vehicles could replace almost 90 percent of cars on the road. Williams notes that mass-scale adoption of electric vehicles could lead to a 30 percent reduction in transportation-related emissions.

The Guardian

Sam Thielman writes for The Guardian that MIT researchers have found that electric vehicles would meet the needs of most American drivers. Prof. Jessika Trancik says her vision is that people would own electric vehicles, “but then being able to very conveniently get an internal combustion engine vehicle to take that long road trip.”

The Washington Post

A study by MIT researchers finds that electric cars could replace most of the cars on the road, reports Chris Mooney for The Washington Post . “87 percent of vehicles on the road could be replaced by a low cost electric vehicle…even if there’s no possibility to recharge during the day,” explains Prof. Jessika Trancik.

MIT researchers have found that almost 90 percent of cars on the road could be replaced with electric vehicles, reports Amrith Ramkumar for Bloomberg. The researchers found switching to electric vehicles could lead to a “60 percent reduction in total U.S. gasoline consumption and a 30 percent decrease” in emissions from transportation.

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New to Climate Change?

Electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are a cleaner alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered cars and trucks—both in terms of harmful air pollution , and the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change.   Most cars and trucks use an “internal combustion engine” (ICE), powered by burning oil-based fuels. When burned, those fuels create climate-warming carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and other pollutants the vehicles release from their tailpipes. Electric vehicles have neither engines nor tailpipes. Instead, they have batteries that power electric motors. It’s the same setup as a remote-controlled toy car, although a great deal of hard engineering has gone into making this work with a heavy, human-scaled vehicle that runs for hundreds of miles on a single charge.

Challenges to electric vehicle adoption

Cars and trucks produce a fifth of all climate pollution in the U.S. 1 And because new cars normally stay on the road for 15 to 20 years, much of that pollution is already “locked in” into the 2040s. If electric vehicles are going to change the way we travel in time to meet our climate goals , people need to start choosing them over ICE cars today.   In many ways, EVs are already an attractive purchase. They’re fast, quiet, don’t need much maintenance, and because it’s cheaper to charge their batteries with electricity than to buy gasoline, the “total cost of ownership” of EVs is very competitive.   Still, EVs tend to cost more upfront than comparable ICE cars, which is a key consideration for many car buyers, and additional cost is required to install a dedicated EV charger at home. To solve this problem, governments can subsidize EVs. In the U.S., buyers can claim tax credits up to $7,500 for buying a new EV, 2 and many states offer more.   In addition to cost, EVs must meet drivers’ expectations. Most drivers buy cars not just because they’re good enough for daily travel, but also to meet the demands of their longest trips. Only recently have EV batteries become good enough to drive 300+ miles, or to provide reliable charges for heavy vehicles like pickup trucks and buses. For the heaviest vehicles, like long-distance freight trucks and construction vehicles, EVs still lag in performance. And a larger system of EV charging stations is needed to match the U.S. network of over 100,000 gas stations.

Just how clean are electric vehicles?

Electric vehicles are unambiguously better for the climate than ICE cars. But they do create some pollution.   That’s because the electricity that powers EVs has to come from somewhere: often, a fossil fuel power plant. Luckily, power plants are much more efficient at making energy than a car engine, so even an EV that runs entirely on electricity from coal—the very “dirtiest” fossil fuel—will still produce less CO 2 per mile driven than a similar ICE car. 3   In practice, most electric grids have a mix of fossil fuels and clean energy. An electric car charged on the average U.S. electric grid creates just a third as much CO 2 per mile as a similar ICE car: the equivalent of a gasoline car that gets over 100 miles per gallon. 4 And as the grid itself improves, EVs already on the road will continue to get cleaner.   Manufacturing EV batteries, and mining and refining the minerals used in them, also creates climate pollution. An EV rolling off the factory floor has likely produced 50% to 80% more CO 2 than a similar ICE vehicle before it drives a single mile. 5 The EV then “pays off” these manufacturing emissions by driving cleaner over a lifetime of use. 6   All this means that, while EVs can help lower our greenhouse gas emissions by replacing ICE vehicles, they are not perfect. EVs are best seen as part of a suite of tools for clean transportation. Where practical, walking, biking, or using public transportation will almost always create less CO 2 than EVs, while EVs have a unique role serving longer trips and those that can only be taken by car.

Electric vs. hybrid vehicles

A fully electric vehicle, or “battery electric vehicle” (BEV), is quite different from a “hybrid electric vehicle” (HEV). The hybrid has a normal internal combustion engine, but also has an electric motor and battery that can capture energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. Using both the engine and its electric motor to turn its wheels, an HEV can get by on much less fuel than a standard ICE car, but ultimately all its energy comes from oil.   In between a hybrid and BEV is a “plug-in hybrid electric vehicle” (PHEV). This still has an engine, but also has a mid-sized battery that can be charged directly and power the car on its own. A PHEV acts like a fully electric vehicle on smaller journeys, only burning fuel on longer trips that exceed the range of its battery.

Published July 24, 2023.

1 Congressional Budget Office: Emissions of carbon dioxide in the transportation sector . December 2022.

2 U.S. Department of Energy: Fuel Economy: Tax Incentives .

3 Reuters: " Analysis: When do electric vehicles become cleaner than gasoline cars? " Paul Lienert, July 7, 2021. Analysis based on Argonne National Laboratory's GREET (Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Technologies) Model, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

4 MIT Energy Initiative: Insights Into Future Mobility , November 2019.

5 In the Insights Into Future Mobility study cited above, the Honda Clarity battery electric vehicle is concluded to produce 57.5% more manufacturing emissions than the comparably Toyota Camry ICE vehicle. In the GREET model also cited above, an EV with a 300-mile battery range is concluded to produce 80% more manufacturing emissions than a comparable ICE vehicle. For more information, see, “ How much CO 2 is emitted by manufacturing batteries? ”

6 For a more detailed analysis, see, “ Are electric cars definitely better for the climate than gas-powered cars? ”

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  • Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change

global warming evs project introduction

Zeke Hausfather

Update 7/2/2020: The lifecycle emissions figures were revised to reflect more recent data on electricity carbon intensity and battery manufacture.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are an important part of meeting global goals on climate change. They feature prominently in mitigation pathways that limit warming to well-below 2C or 1.5C, which would be inline with the Paris Agreement ’s targets.

However, while no greenhouse gas emissions directly come from EVs, they run on electricity that is, in large part, still produced from fossil fuels in many parts of the world. Energy is also used to manufacture the vehicle – and, in particular, the battery.

Here, in response to recent misleading media reports on the topic, Carbon Brief provides a detailed look at the climate impacts of EVs. In this analysis, Carbon Brief finds:

  • EVs are responsible for considerably lower emissions over their lifetime than conventional (internal combustion engine) vehicles across Europe as a whole.
  • In countries with coal-intensive electricity generation, the benefits of EVs are smaller and they can have similar lifetime emissions to the most efficient conventional vehicles – such as hybrid-electric models.
  • However, as countries decarbonise electricity generation to meet their climate targets, driving emissions will fall for existing EVs and manufacturing emissions will fall for new EVs.
  •  In the UK in 2019, the lifetime emissions per kilometre of driving a Nissan Leaf EV were about three times lower than for the average conventional car, even before accounting for the falling carbon intensity of electricity generation during the car’s lifetime.
  • Comparisons between electric vehicles and conventional vehicles are complex. They depend on the size of the vehicles, the accuracy of the fuel-economy estimates used, how electricity emissions are calculated, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather in regions where the vehicles are used. There is no single estimate that applies everywhere.

There are also large uncertainties around the emissions associated with electric vehicle battery production, with different studies producing widely differing numbers. As battery prices fall and vehicle manufacturers start including larger batteries with longer driving ranges, battery production emissions can have a larger impact on the climate benefits of electric vehicles.

Around half of the emissions from battery production come from the electricity used in manufacturing and assembling the batteries. Producing batteries in regions with relatively low-carbon electricity or in factories powered by renewable energy, as will be the case for the batteries used in the best-selling Tesla Model 3 , can substantially reduce battery emissions.

Different studies find different results

A recent working paper from a group of German researchers at the thinktank Institute for Economic Research ( ifo ) found that “electric vehicles will barely help cut CO2 emissions in Germany over the coming years”. It suggests that, in Germany, “the CO2 emissions of battery-electric vehicles are, in the best case, slightly higher than those of a diesel engine”.

This study was picked up in the international media, with the Wall Street Journal running an editorial titled, “ Germany’s dirty green cars ”. It also engendered pushback from electric vehicle advocates, with articles in Jalopnik and Autoblog , as well as individual researchers rebutting the claim.

Other recent studies of electric cars in Germany have reached the opposite conclusion. One study found that emissions from EVs have emissions up to 43% lower than diesel vehicles. Another detailed that “in all cases examined, electric cars have lower lifetime climate impacts than those with internal combustion engines”.

These differences arise from the assumptions used by researchers. As Prof Jeremy Michalek , director of the Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University , tells Carbon Brief, “which technology comes out on top depends on a lot of things”. These include which specific vehicles are being compared, what electricity grid mix is assumed, if marginal or average electricity emissions are used, what driving patterns are assumed, and even the weather.

The figure below, adapted from an analysis by the International Council for Clean Transportation ( ICCT ), shows an estimate of lifecycle emissions for a typical European conventional (internal combustion engine) car, the hybrid conventional car with the best available fuel economy (a 2019 Toyota Prius Eco ), and a Nissan Leaf electric vehicle for various countries, as well as the EU average. [The Leaf was the top selling EV in Europe in 2018.]

The chart includes tailpipe emissions (grey), emissions from the fuel cycle (orange) – which includes oil production, transport, refining, and electricity generation – emissions from manufacturing the non-battery components of the vehicle (dark blue) and a conservative estimate of emissions from manufacturing the battery (light blue).

In most countries, the majority of emissions over the lifetime of both electric and conventional vehicles come from vehicle operation – tailpipe and fuel cycle – rather than vehicle manufacture. The exception is in countries – Norway or France, for example – where nearly all electricity comes from near-zero carbon sources, such as hydroelectric or nuclear power.

However, while the carbon emitted from burning a gallon of petrol or diesel cannot be reduced, the same is not true for electricity. Lifecycle emissions for electric vehicles are much smaller in countries such as France (which gets most of its electricity from nuclear) or Norway (from renewables).

The chart above bases electric-vehicle emissions on the current grid mix in each country. However, if the climate targets set in the Paris Agreement are to be met, electricity generation will become significantly less carbon-intensive, further increasing the advantage of electric vehicles over conventional ones.

For example, in the UK, emissions from electricity generation have fallen 38% in just the past three years and are expected to fall by more than 70% by the mid-to-late 2020s, which is well within the lifetime of electric vehicles purchased today.

Emissions associated with battery production are taken from the most recent (2019) estimate from the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute . The Nissan Leaf analysed here has a 40 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery, while the Tesla Model 3 has both 50kWh or 75kWh options (a 62kWh option was previously available, but has been discontinued ).

The figure below shows the estimated lifecycle emissions from a Model 3 if the battery were produced in Asia – which has a large portion of its electricity generated from coal – as is the case for Nissan Leaf batteries. The long-range 75kWh model is used for this analysis, to mimic the approach in the ifo study; battery-manufacturing emissions from the mid-range 50kWh model would be around a third smaller.

Under these assumptions, a Tesla Model 3 would have higher lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions than the best-rated conventional car in Germany, but would still be better for the climate than the average vehicle. In other countries even a long-range Tesla Model 3 would be more lower emissions than any petrol vehicle.

However, the fact that the Tesla batteries are, in fact, manufactured in Nevada makes an important difference to this calculation. Lifecycle emissions estimates for batteries produced in the US tend to be notably lower than those produced in Asia, as discussed later in this article.

Around 50% of the battery lifecycle emissions come from the electricity used in battery manufacture and assembly, so producing batteries in a plant powered by renewable energy – as will be the case for the Tesla factory – substantially reduces lifetime emissions. The figure below shows Carbon Brief’s estimate of lifecycle emissions from a Tesla Model 3 with batteries produced in the Tesla “ Gigafactory ”.

Taking manufacturing conditions into account, a Model 3 with a 75kWh battery from the Nevada Gigafactory results in notably smaller emissions – and has a lifecycle climate impact similar to the estimate for the Nissan Leaf.

Emissions from electricity generation will also vary within countries, with some regions having much cleaner generation mixes (and correspondingly larger climate advantages for EVs) than others.

The figures shown above adjust emissions for both conventional and electric vehicles to reflect real-world driving conditions rather than test-cycle numbers. This is important, as official fuel economy estimates can differ widely from real-world performance, with large knock-on impacts for the comparison between conventional and electric vehicles.

Paying back the carbon debt

The analysis in the figures above compares EVs and conventional vehicles over their entire lifetime, based on a total of 150,000km of driving.

However, it’s also possible to compare the vehicles over time, to see how long it would take to repay the initial “carbon debt” incurred by the production of a carbon-intensive battery pack for EVs.

For example, as already noted above, a new Nissan Leaf EV bought in the UK in 2019 would have lifetime emissions some three times lower than the average new conventional car.

Looking at this over time, in the figure below, shows that while the battery causes higher emissions during vehicle manufacture in “year zero”, this excess carbon debt would be paid back after less than two years of driving.

Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement as well as from land use, land-use change and forestry

The chart above shows that the difference in use-phase emissions is relatively large, with the EV saving some two to three tonnes of CO2 equivalent each year in the UK. (The figure falls over time as the electricity mix gets cleaner).

Annual global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and cement as well as from land use, land-use change and forestry

This equation would become even clearer were it not for the generous assumption that the existing conventional car has emissions equal to the average new vehicle.

Note that the cumulative lifetime emissions charts above are based on mileage of 150,000km over 12 years, or some 7,800 miles per year, for consistency with the remainder of the article.

This figure is slightly higher than the UK average annual mileage, which fell closer to 7,100 miles in 2017. Even at this lower mileage, however, replacing an existing conventional car with an EV would start cutting emissions within just over four years.

Problematic fuel economy estimates

The ifo study provides an example of the potential pitfalls of using test-cycle fuel economy values instead of real-world performance. The study compared the lifetime emissions from a Mercedes C 220 to the new Tesla Model 3, taking into account emissions associated with vehicle production. It found that the Tesla had emissions between 90% and 125% of the Mercedes over the lifetime of the vehicle.

In other words, despite the headlines it generated, even ifo found that EVs ranged from being slightly better to somewhat worse than a diesel vehicle.

The study assumed a fuel economy of 52 miles per gallon (mpg) for the Mercedes, which is significantly higher than the average car in the US (25mpg for petrol vehicles), but similar to average fuel economy in the UK (52mpg for petrol vehicles and 61mpg for diesel vehicles). However, different fuel-economy testing procedures produce quite different results.

While the US EPA fuel economy numbers tend to reflect actual driving conditions, the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) values used in the EU exaggerate actual vehicle fuel economy by up to 50% – and potentially even more for Mercedes vehicles.

The Tesla Model 3 energy use assumed in the study (241 watt-hours per mile), by contrast, is only 8% smaller than the EPA estimates of real-world use (260 watt-hours/mile). Using more realistic estimates of fuel economy for the conventional vehicle would have a large effect on the results of the ifo analysis, making the EV option preferable to the conventional vehicle.

Large differences in battery emissions

Both the ifo study and the ICCT analysis rely on the same estimate of emissions from battery manufacturing: a 2017 study by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute ( IVL ). IVL examined studies published between 2010 and 2016, and concluded that battery manufacturing emissions are likely between 150 and 200 kg CO2-equivalent per kWh of battery capacity.

The majority of studies examined by IVL looked at battery production in Asia, rather than in the US or Europe. The IVL study also noted that battery technology was evolving rapidly and that there is great potential for reduction in manufacturing emissions.

The IVL study came under considerable criticism , and in late 2019 received a substantial revision . The IVL researchers now estimate that battery manufacturing emissions are actually between 61 and 106 kg CO2-equivalent per kWh, with an upper bound of 146 kg. The low end estimate of 61 kg is for cases when the energy used from battery manufacturing comes from zero-carbon sources. IVL suggests that this revision was driven by new data for cell production, including more realistic measurements of energy use for commercial-scale battery factories that have substantially expanded in scale and output in recent years.

Carbon Brief undertook its own assessment of the literature to find recently published estimates of lifecycle emissions from battery manufacturing. The figure below shows data from 17 different studies, including seven published after the 2017 IVL estimate. It divides studies based on the region in which the batteries were produced: Asia (in red), Europe (light blue), US (dark blue) and reviews that examine multiple regions (grey).

Most of the studies published in recent years show lifecycle emissions smaller than those in the original IVL study, with an average of around 100kg CO2 per kWh for those published after 2017. These new estimates are well in-line with the revised 2019 IVL study numbers. Manufacturing emission estimates are generally higher in Asia than in Europe or the US, reflecting the widespread use of coal for electricity generation in the region. Studies that directly compared batteries manufactured in Asia to those in the US or Europe found lifecycle emissions around 20% lower outside of Asia.

A number of studies break down emissions into mining, refining and other material production that happens off-site, as well as the actual manufacturing process where the battery is assembled. These tend to find that about half the lifecycle emissions are a result of off-site material production and half result from electricity used in the manufacturing process. This is shown in the table below, taken from the 2017 IVL report, which breaks down lifecycle emissions by component and manufacturing stage.

Lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from battery manufacture by component and manufacturing stage in kg CO2-equivalent per kWh battery capacity. Table 19 from Romare & Dahllof 2017.

As the IVL study notes:

“Manufacturing stands for a large part of the production impact…This implies that production location and/or electricity mix has great potential to impact the results.”

This is an important factor to consider when estimating battery emissions from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, which produced all of the batteries currently used in Model 3 vehicles.

Nevada, where Tesla’s Gigafactory is located, has electricity that is, on average, around 30% lower in carbon intensity than the US average. Nevada has phased out nearly all of its coal-based power generation over the past two decades, as shown in the figure below.

Nevada electricity generation mix from 2001 through 2017, from the New York Times.

Tesla recently began construction of the world’s largest solar roof on top of its Gigafactory, which, when coupled with battery storage, should provide nearly all of the electricity used by the facility.

The image below shows the current status of solar panel installation as of 18 April  2019, though the plan is for nearly the entire roof to be covered by panels when the installation is complete.

Tesla Gigafactory solar roof installation in-progress as of 18 April 2019. Image from Teslarati.

The Gigafactory was also built with a focus on energy efficiency, employing material reuse when possible. However, it is unclear what the actual energy use and emissions associated with battery production at the site are as Tesla has not released any figures.

Given the lower lifecycle manufacturing emission estimates of studies in recent years – and the location of the manufacturing facility in a state with a relatively low-carbon electricity generation mix – Carbon Brief provides an estimate of 61kg CO2-equivalent per kWh based on the revised IVL study .

This is quite similar to a recent estimate for battery production in Germany by the Research Center for Energy Economics ( FFE ). FFE found that if batteries were produced using renewable energy, as is the goal for the Nevada Gigafactory, emissions would fall down to 62kg CO2-equivalent per kWh.

How and when electricity is generated matters

The climate benefit of EVs depend not only on the country where an EV is used, but also what region of the country it is used in. In the US, for example , there is a wide variation in how electricity is generated, with much cleaner electricity in places such as California or New York than in the middle parts of the country.

How the emissions from electricity generation are calculated is also important. While many analyses – including the ones earlier in this article – make use of the average emissions from electricity generation, Michalek tells Carbon Brief that using these values can produce somewhat misleading results.

It would be more accurate to use marginal emissions, Michalek says. This reflects emissions from the power plants turned on to meet new demand from EV charging. He explains:

“Some plants, like nuclear, hydro, wind and solar are generally fully utilised and will not change their generation output if you buy an EV. What changes, at least in the short run, is primarily that coal and natural gas plants will increase generation in response to this new load. So, if your question is ‘what will be the emissions consequences if I buy an EV versus a gasoline vehicle,’ which I think is the right question for policy, then the answer should use the consequential grid mix (for small changes this is the marginal generation mix) rather than the average. The marginal grid mix typically has higher emissions intensity than the average.”

However, the marginal emissions are something of a short-term estimate of EV impacts. As the demand from more EVs is added to the grid, gas and coal resources that are currently not being utilised may increase their output, but over the longer term additional generation sources will come online.

Michalek explains that the impact of EV adoption on future power plant construction is an area of active research.

In 2016, Michalek and colleagues published a paper in Environmental Research Letters taking into account a whole host of factors – including the marginal grid mix, ambient temperature, patterns of vehicle miles travelled and driving conditions (city versus highway) – in order to make the most accurate possible comparison between EV and similar conventional vehicles at the time.

The figure below shows their results. In the left column, the most efficient petrol vehicle – a Toyota Prius – is compared to one fully electric vehicle – a Nissan Leaf – and two plug-in electric hybrid vehicles – a Chevrolet Volt and a Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The right column shows the same analysis, but for a typical conventional vehicle of the same size – a Mazda 3. Each county in the country is colored red if the petrol vehicle has lower emissions and blue if the electric vehicle has lower emissions.

Difference in lifecycle emissions in grammes CO2-equivalent per mile driven for selected electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (2013 Nissan Leaf BEV, 2013 Chevrolet Volt PHEV, and 2013 Prius PHEV) relative to selected gasoline vehicles (2010 Prius HEV and 2014 Mazda 3). Figure 2 in Yuksel et al 2016.

They found that the Nissan Leaf EV is considerably better than a similar typical conventional vehicle outside of parts of the Midwest that rely heavily on coal for marginal emissions. However, when compared to the most efficient conventional vehicle, the climate benefits of the EV were near-zero or negative in large parts of the country.

This study examines the current mix of electricity generation, which will likely become less carbon-intensive over the lifetime of vehicles operating today. However, the authors caution that the relationship between average emission reductions and marginal emission reductions is not always clearcut. Because marginal emissions come primarily from fossil-fuel plants, emission reductions for EV charging will occur mainly when gas displaces coal at the margin, or when widespread EV adoption requires bringing new low-carbon electricity generation facilities online to meet demand.

Electric vehicles ‘not a panacea’ without decarbonisation

In both the US and Europe, EVs represent a substantial reduction in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to the average conventional vehicle. This has been a consistent finding across the overwhelming majority of studies examined by Carbon Brief.

However, Michalek cautions that:

“EVs are not currently a panacea for climate change…lifecycle GHG emissions from electric vehicles can be similar to or even greater than the most efficient gasoline or diesel vehicles [in the US].”

As electricity generation becomes less carbon intensive – particularly at the margin – electric vehicles will become preferable to all conventional vehicles in virtually all cases. There are fundamental limitations on how efficient petrol and diesel vehicles can become, whereas low-carbon electricity and increased battery manufacturing efficiency can cut much of the manufacturing emissions and nearly all electricity use emissions from EVs.

A transition from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles to EVs plays a large role in mitigation pathways that limit warming to meet Paris Agreement targets. However, it depends on rapid decarbonisation of electricity generation to be effective. If countries do not replace coal and, to a lesser extent, gas, then electric vehicles will still remain far from being “zero emissions”.

Methodology

US values in the first three figures were estimated by Carbon Brief based on US grid emission factors from EPA eGRID 2018 modified with Rhodium Group estimates for 2019 and electricity fuel cycle estimates from Michalek et al 2011 . Error bars reflect lifecycle battery manufacturing estimates ranging from 61 to 146kgCO2e per kWh (kgCO2e/kWh) used in the revised 2019 IVL study , with its central range being 61-100kgCO2e/kWh.

EU average and per-country grid emissions factors for 2019 were taken from Sandbag 2020 . Leaf emissions were based on a 40kWh battery, a fuel economy estimate of 26kWh per 100 miles and a conservative top-end central estimate of 100kgCO2/kWh for battery production.

The Peugeot 208 1.6 BlueHDi used in the original Hall and Lutsey 2018 figure was replaced by a 2019 Toyota Prius Eco hybrid car, which is more comparable in size to both the Leaf and Model 3 and has the highest fuel economy of any commercially available car, with a 56 miles per gallon EPA rating – which is similar to the fuel use in actual driving conditions .

Model 3 emissions were estimated using a fuel economy value of 25kWh per 100 miles for the long-range 75kWh battery model. Non-battery manufacturing emissions were assumed to be the same as those of the Nissan Leaf used in the ICCT analysis . Battery emissions from the Nevada Gigafactory were assumed to be at the bottom end of the central range from the IVL study – 61kgCO2e/kWh – based on the combination of a zero-carbon generation mix, the widespread use of efficiency measures in manufacturing and the use of on-site renewable energy as discussed in the article.

The following studies were used by Carbon Brief in the battery lifecycle emissions literature review:

Philippot, M. et al. (2019) Eco-Efficiency of a Lithium-Ion Battery for Electric Vehicles: Influence of Manufacturing Country and Commodity Prices on GHG Emissions and Costs, Batteries, doi:10.3390/batteries5010023

Regett, A. et al. (2018) Carbon footprint of electric vehicles – a plea for more objectivity, FFE white paper.

GREET model (2018) The Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation Model, Argonne National Laboratory.

Messagie, M. (2017). Life Cycle Analysis of the Climate Impact of Electric Vehicles, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Transport & Environment white paper.

Han, H. et al (2017). GHG Emissions from the Production of Lithium-Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles in China, Sustainability, doi:10.3390/su9040504

Romare, M. and Dahllöf, L. (2017) The Life Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Lithium-Ion Batteries, IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute white paper.

Wolfram, P. and Wiedmann, T. (2017) Electrifying Australian transport: Hybrid life cycle analysis of a transition to electric light-duty vehicles and renewable electricity, Applied Energy, doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.08.219

Wang, Y. et al. (2017) Quantifying the environmental impact of a Li-rich high-capacity cathode material in electric vehicles via life cycle assessment, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, doi:10.1007/s11356-016-7849-9

Ambrose, H. and Kendall, A. (2016) Effects of battery chemistry and performance on the life cycle greenhouse gas intensity of electric mobility. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, doi:10.1016/j.trd.2016.05.009

Dunn, J. et al. (2016) Life Cycle Analysis Summary for Automotive Lithium-Ion Battery Production and Recycling, In: Kirchain R.E. et al. (eds) REWAS 2016. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-48768-7_11

Ellingsen, L. et al. (2016) The size and range effect: lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of electric vehicles, Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054010

Kim, H. et al. (2016) Cradle-to-Gate Emissions from a Commercial Electric Vehicle Li-Ion Battery: A Comparative Analysis, Environmental Science & Technology, doi:10.1021/acs.est.6b00830

Peters, J. et al. (2016) The environmental impact of Li-Ion batteries and the role of key parameters – A review, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, doi:10.1016/j.rser.2016.08.039

Nealer, R. et al. (2015) Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave, Union of Concerned Scientists white paper.

Hart, K. et al. (2013) Application of LifeCycle Assessment to Nanoscale Technology: Lithium-ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles. US EPA report 744-R-12-001.

Dunn, J. et al. (2012) Impact of recycling on cradle-to-gate energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of automotive lithium-ion batteries, Environmental Science & Technology. doi:10.1021/es302420z

Majeau-Bettez, G. et al. (2011) Life Cycle Environmental Assessment of Lithium-Ion and

Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries for Plug-In Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles, Environmental Science & Technology. doi:10.1021/es103607c

Update 6-2-2020:

This article was updated to include the new battery manufacturing emissions values from the revised 2019 IVL study, replacing the 2017 IVL study values used in the original version of the article.

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One of the biggest myths about EVs is busted in new study

Even evs that plug into dirty grids emit fewer greenhouse gases than gas-powered cars .

By Justine Calma , a senior science reporter covering climate change, clean energy, and environmental justice with more than a decade of experience. She is also the host of Hell or High Water: When Disaster Hits Home, a podcast from Vox Media and Audible Originals.

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Geely Targets Apple, Big Tech With Its New Zeekr Electric-Car Unit

A new study lays to rest the tired argument that electric vehicles aren’t much cleaner than internal combustion vehicles. Over the life cycle of an EV — from digging up the materials needed to build it to eventually laying the car to rest — it will release fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a gas-powered car, the research found. That holds true globally, whether an EV plugs into a grid in Europe with a larger share of renewables, or a grid in India that still relies heavily on coal . 

Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis. So governments from California to the European Union have proposed phasing out internal combustion engines by 2035. But there are still people who claim that EVs are only as clean as the grids they run on — and right now, fossil fuels still dominate when it comes to the energy mix in most places. 

“We have a lot of lobby work from parts of the automotive industry saying that electric vehicles are not that much better if you take into account the electricity production and the battery production. We wanted to look into this and see whether these arguments are true,” says Georg Bieker, a researcher at the nonprofit research group the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) that published the report . The ICCT’s analysis found that those arguments don’t hold true over time. 

The report estimates the emissions from medium-sized EVs registered in 2021 in either India, China, the US, or Europe — countries that make up 70 percent of new car sales globally and are representative of other markets across the world, the ICCT says. Lifetime emissions for an EV in Europe are between 66 and 69 percent lower compared to that of a gas-guzzling vehicle, the analysis found. In the US, an EV produces between 60 to 68 percent fewer emissions. In China, which uses more coal, an EV results in between 37 to 45 percent fewer emissions. In India, it’s between 19 to 34 percent lower. 

It’s difficult to predict how much the world’s energy infrastructure will actually change

It’s important to note that the study assumes that the vehicle was registered in 2021 and will be on the road for around 18 years. Study authors ended up with a range of potential emissions reductions for each region by looking at the energy mix under existing policy, as well as projections from the International Energy Agency for what the future electricity mix will look like as climate policies develop. But it’s difficult to predict how much the world’s energy infrastructure will actually change. For example in the US, President Joe Biden has set a goal of getting 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 — but still needs to pass the policies to make that happen. The study also doesn’t take into account other non-climate related environmental effects that constructing the cars might have from things like mining and waste.

Actually building an EV is still a little more carbon-intensive than building a traditional vehicle. Recycling EV batteries could eventually bring that carbon intensity down. But for now, EV drivers start to reap the climate benefits after driving their car for a year or so, according to Bieker. That’s when the car passes the threshold when the emissions that it saves by running on cleaner electricity make it a better option for the climate than a traditional car.

“We need globally to phase out combustion engine cars.”

Bieker hopes the ICCT’s findings will help policymakers make more informed decisions about the future of transportation. Climate experts are rushing to bring global greenhouse gas emissions down to near zero by the middle of the century to avoid the worst effects of global warming. Electric vehicles are necessary to make those cuts happen, and even hybrid-electric vehicles aren’t clean enough to meet that goal. The report recommends against allowing any new internal combustion vehicles on the road by the 2030s. 

“Combustion engine vehicles of any kind are not able to deliver the greenhouse gas reductions we need to live with climate change,” Bieker says. “That’s a global finding, therefore we need globally to phase out combustion engine cars.”

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How electric vehicles and other transportation innovations could slow global warming, according to IPCC

Around the world, revolutionary changes are under way in transportation. More electric vehicles are on the road, people are taking advantage of sharing mobility services such as Uber and Lyft, and the rise in telework during the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way people think about commuting.

Transportation is a growing source of the global greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, accounting for 23% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in 2019 and 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

READ MORE: We have the tools to save the planet from climate change. Politics is getting in the way, new IPCC report says

The systemic changes under way in the transportation sector could begin lowering that emissions footprint. But will they reduce emissions enough?

In a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released April 4, 2022, scientists from around the world examined the latest research on efforts to mitigate climate change. The report concludes that falling costs for renewable energy and for electric vehicle batteries, in addition to policy changes, have slowed the growth of climate change in the past decade, but that deep, immediate cuts are necessary to stop emissions growth entirely and keep global warming in check.

Charts showing falling costs and rising adoption

Costs are falling for key forms of renewable energy and EV batteries, and adoption of these technologies is rising. IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

The transportation chapter, which I contributed to , homed in on transportation transformations – some just starting and others expanding – that in the most aggressive scenarios could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 80% to 90% of current levels by 2050. That sort of drastic reduction would require a major, rapid rethinking of how people get around globally.

The future of EVs

All-electric vehicles have grown dramatically since the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf arrived on the market a little over a decade ago, following the popularity of hybrids.

In 2021 alone, the sales of electric passenger vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, doubled worldwide to 6.6 million, about 9% of all car sales that year.

Strong regulatory policies have encouraged the production of electric vehicles, including California’s Zero Emission Vehicle regulation , which requires automakers to produce a certain number of zero-emission vehicles based on their total vehicles sold in California; the European Union’s CO2 emissions standards for new vehicles; and China’s New Energy Vehicle policy , all of which have helped push EV adoption to where we are today.

Beyond passenger vehicles, many micro-mobility options – such as autorickshaws, scooters and bikes – as well as buses, have been electrified. As the cost of lithium-ion batteries decreases , these transportation options will become increasingly affordable and further boost sales of battery-powered vehicles that traditionally have run on fossil fuels.

An important aspect to remember about electrifying the transportation system is that its ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions ultimately depends on how clean the electricity grid is. China, for example, is aiming for 20% of its vehicles to be electric by 2025, but its electric grid is still heavily reliant on coal .

With the global trends toward more renewable generation, these vehicles will be connected with fewer carbon emissions over time. There are also many developing and potentially promising co-benefits of electromobility when coupled with the power system. The batteries within electric vehicles have the potential to act as storage devices for the grid, which can assist in stabilizing the intermittency of renewable resources in the power sector, among many other benefits.

Other areas of transportation are more challenging to electrify. Larger and heavier vehicles generally aren’t as conducive to electrification because the size and weight of the batteries needed rapidly becomes untenable.

Cranes load shipping containers onto a ship docked in port.

Ships that can connect to electric power in port can avoid burning fuel that produces greenhouse gases and pollution. Ernesto Velázquez/Unsplash, CC BY

For some heavy-duty trucks, ships and airplanes, alternative fuels such as hydrogen, advanced biofuels and synthetic fuels are being explored as replacements for fossil fuels. Most aren’t economically feasible yet, and substantial advances in the technology are still needed to ensure they are either low- or zero-carbon.

Other ways to cut emissions from transportation

While new fuel and vehicle technologies are often highlighted as decarbonization solutions, behavioral and other systemic changes will also be needed to meet to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically from this sector. We are already in the midst of these changes.

Telecommuting: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the explosion of teleworking and video conferencing reduced travel, and, with it, emissions associated with commuting. While some of that will rebound, telework is likely to continue for many sectors of the economy.

Shared mobility: Some shared mobility options, like bike and scooter sharing programs, can get more people out of vehicles entirely.

Car-sharing and on-demand services such as Uber and Lyft also have the potential to reduce emissions if they use high-efficiency or zero-emission vehicles, or if their services lean more toward car pooling, with each driver picking up multiple passengers. Unfortunately, there is substantial uncertainty about the impact of these services. They might also increase vehicle use and, with it, greenhouse gas emissions .

New policies such as the California Clean Miles Standard are helping to push companies like Uber and Lyft to use cleaner vehicles and increase their passenger loads, though it remains to be seen whether other regions will adopt similar policies.

Public transit-friendly cities: Another systemic change involves urban planning and design. Transportation in urban areas is responsible for approximately 8% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

Efficient city planning and land use can reduce travel demand and shift transportation modes, from cars to public transit, through strategies that avoid urban sprawl and disincentivize personal cars. These improvements not only decrease greenhouse gas emissions, but can decrease congestion, air pollution and noise, while improving the safety of transportation systems.

How do these advances translate to lower emissions?

Much of the uncertainty in how much technological change and other systemic shifts in transportation affects global warming is related to the speed of transition.

The new IPCC report includes several potential scenarios for how much improvements in transportation will be able to cut emissions. On average, the scenarios indicate that the carbon intensity of the transportation sector would need to decrease by about 50% by 2050 and as much as 91% by 2100 when combined with a cleaner electricity grid to stay within the 1.5-degree Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) target for global warming.

These decreases would require a complete reversal of current trends of increasing emissions in the transportation sector, but the recent advances in transportation provide many opportunities to meet this challenge.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

Alan Jenn is an assistant professional researcher in transportation at the University of California, Davis.

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How Green Are Electric Vehicles?

In short: Very green. But plug-in cars still have environmental effects. Here’s a guide to the main issues and how they might be addressed.

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By Hiroko Tabuchi and Brad Plumer

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Around the world, governments and automakers are promoting electric vehicles as a key technology to curb oil use and fight climate change. General Motors has said it aims to stop selling new gasoline-powered cars and light trucks by 2035 and will pivot to battery-powered models. This week, Volvo said it would move even faster and introduce an all-electric lineup by 2030.

But as electric cars and trucks go mainstream, they have faced a persistent question: Are they really as green as advertised?

While experts broadly agree that plug-in vehicles are a more climate-friendly option than traditional vehicles, they can still have their own environmental impacts, depending on how they’re charged up and manufactured. Here’s a guide to some of the biggest worries — and how they might be addressed.

It matters how the electricity is made

Broadly speaking, most electric cars sold today tend to produce significantly fewer planet-warming emissions than most cars fueled with gasoline. But a lot depends on how much coal is being burned to charge up those plug-in vehicles. And electric grids still need to get much, much cleaner before electric vehicles are truly emissions free.

One way to compare the climate impacts of different vehicle models is with this interactive online tool by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who tried to incorporate all the relevant factors: the emissions involved in manufacturing the cars and in producing gasoline and diesel fuel, how much gasoline conventional cars burn, and where the electricity to charge electric vehicles comes from.

If you assume electric vehicles are drawing their power from the average grid in the United States, which typically includes a mix of fossil fuel and renewable power plants, then they’re almost always much greener than conventional cars. Even though electric vehicles are more emissions-intensive to make because of their batteries, their electric motors are more efficient than traditional internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels.

An all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, for instance, can be expected to produce 189 grams of carbon dioxide for every mile driven over its lifetime, on average. By contrast, a new gasoline-fueled Toyota Camry is estimated to produce 385 grams of carbon dioxide per mile. A new Ford F-150 pickup truck, which is even less fuel-efficient, produces 636 grams of carbon dioxide per mile.

But that’s just an average. On the other hand, if the Bolt is charged up on a coal-heavy grid, such as those currently found in the Midwest, it can actually be a bit worse for the climate than a modern hybrid car like the Toyota Prius, which runs on gasoline but uses a battery to bolster its mileage. (The coal-powered Bolt would still beat the Camry and the F-150, however.)

“Coal tends to be the critical factor,” said Jeremy Michalek, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “If you’ve got electric cars in Pittsburgh that are being plugged in at night and leading nearby coal plants to burn more coal to charge them, then the climate benefits won’t be as great, and you can even get more air pollution.”

The good news for electric vehicles is that most countries are now pushing to clean up their electric grids. In the United States, utilities have retired hundreds of coal plants over the last decade and shifted to a mix of lower-emissions natural gas, wind and solar power. As a result, researchers have found , electric vehicles have generally gotten cleaner, too. And they are likely to get cleaner still.

“The reason electric vehicles look like an appealing climate solution is that if we can make our grids zero-carbon, then vehicle emissions drop way, way down,” said Jessika Trancik, an associate professor of energy studies at M.I.T. “Whereas even the best hybrids that burn gasoline will always have a baseline of emissions they can’t go below.”

Raw materials can be problematic

Like many other batteries, the lithium-ion cells that power most electric vehicles rely on raw materials — like cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements — that have been linked to grave environmental and human rights concerns. Cobalt has been especially problematic.

Mining cobalt produces hazardous tailings and slags that can leach into the environment , and studies have found high exposure in nearby communities , especially among children, to cobalt and other metals. Extracting the metals from their ores also requires a process called smelting, which can emit sulfur oxide and other harmful air pollution.

And as much as 70 percent of the world’s cobalt supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a substantial proportion in unregulated “artisanal” mines where workers — including many children — dig the metal from the earth using only hand tools at great risk to their health and safety, human rights groups warn.

The world’s lithium is either mined in Australia or from salt flats in the Andean regions of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, operations that use large amounts of groundwater to pump out the brines, drawing down the water available to Indigenous farmers and herders. The water required for producing batteries has meant that manufacturing electric vehicles is about 50 percent more water intensive than traditional internal combustion engines. Deposits of rare earths, concentrated in China, often contain radioactive substances that can emit radioactive water and dust.

Focusing first on cobalt, automakers and other manufacturers have committed to eliminating “artisanal” cobalt from their supply chains, and have also said they will develop batteries that decrease, or do away with, cobalt altogether. But that technology is still in development, and the prevalence of these mines means these commitments “aren’t realistic,” said Mickaël Daudin of Pact, a nonprofit organization that works with mining communities in Africa.

Instead, Mr. Daudin said, manufacturers need to work with these mines to lessen their environmental footprint and make sure miners are working in safe conditions. If companies acted responsibly, the rise of electric vehicles would be a great opportunity for countries like Congo, he said. But if they don’t, “they will put the environment, and many, many miners’ lives at risk.”

Recycling could be better

As earlier generations of electric vehicles start to reach the end of their lives, preventing a pileup of spent batteries looms as a challenge.

Most of today’s electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which can store more energy in the same space than older, more commonly-used lead-acid battery technology. But while 99 percent of lead-acid batteries are recycled in the United States , estimated recycling rates for lithium-ion batteries are about 5 percent .

Experts point out that spent batteries contain valuable metals and other materials that can be recovered and reused. Depending on the process used, battery recycling can also use large amounts of water, or emit air pollutants.

“The percentage of lithium batteries being recycled is very low, but with time and innovation, that’s going to increase,” said Radenka Maric, a professor at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

A different, promising approach to tackling used electric vehicle batteries is finding them a second life in storage and other applications. “For cars, when the battery goes below say 80 percent of its capacity, the range is reduced,” said Amol Phadke, a senior scientist at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. “But that’s not a constraint for stationary storage.”

Various automakers, including Nissan and BMW, have piloted the use of old electric vehicle batteries for grid storage. General Motors has said it designed its battery packs with second-life use in mind. But there are challenges: Reusing lithium-ion batteries requires extensive testing and upgrades to make sure they perform reliably.

If done properly, though, used car batteries could continue to be used for a decade or more as backup storage for solar power, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in a study last year.

Hiroko Tabuchi is an investigative reporter on the Climate desk, reporting widely on money, influence and misinformation in climate policy. More about Hiroko Tabuchi

Brad Plumer is a climate reporter specializing in policy and technology efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions. At The Times, he has also covered international climate talks and the changing energy landscape in the United States. More about Brad Plumer

Learn More About Climate Change

Have questions about climate change? Our F.A.Q. will tackle your climate questions, big and small .

New satellite-based research reveals how land along the East Coast is slumping into the ocean, compounding the danger from global sea level rise . A major culprit: overpumping of groundwater.

The planet needs solar power. Can we build it without harming nature ? Today’s decisions about how and where to set up new energy projects will reverberate for generations.

Carbon-free electricity has never been more plentiful, but it hasn’t yet been enough to reduce reliance on fossil fuels. We looked at how electricity generation has changed over time to help you understand today’s global picture .

Singapore is rethinking its sweltering urban areas to dampen the effects of climate change. Can it be a model for other cities ?

New data reveals stark disparities in how different U.S. households contribute to climate change. See your neighborhood’s climate impact .

Did you know the ♻ symbol doesn’t mean something is actually recyclable ? Read on about how we got here, and what can be done.

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Home > Student Works > Singapore / Asia > Course Projects > RSCH 202 > 30

Introduction to Research Methods RSCH 202

Impact of evs on global warming, authors/creators.

Deweender Sharvin Sethu Follow Ho Kai Sheng Khalish Marican

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Dr Somi Shin

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Introduction to research methods

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Submitting campus, student status.

Undergraduate

Project Abstract

This research aims to define the relationship between electric vehicles (EVs) and the total CO2 emissions of the world. The research question is “does the transition to EVs actually make an impact on the total CO2 emissions”. The dependent variable for this research is the total carbon emissions of 195 countries from 1990 to 2019. This secondary data is obtained from the World Bank. The key independent variable used is the total number of Tesla EVs sold in each country from 1990 to 2019. We use Tesla as the company has an exceptionally high market share in the EV market. Another independent variable used is the energy consumption for each country from 1990 to 2019. We propose to collect the independent variables through an independent data collection company called “bright data”. The results from the preliminary regression analysis show that both the sales number of EVs and the energy consumption are significant. Every EV sold reduces the total CO2 emissions by 26,100 metric tonnes. Every 1 exajoule of energy consumed, increases the CO2 emissions by 30.958 billion metric tonnes. This huge difference in impact suggests that focusing on clean energy would be a better strategy than adopting EVs.

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Climate crisis: Study shows how Tesla and other electric vehicle firms could move the needle

The green credentials of Tesla, Rivian, and other EV companies may be more grounded than you think.

An electric vehicle charging.

Electric cars are billed as the green alternative to traditional combustion-engine autos, but these eco credentials are often called into question. Opting for a Tesla over a BMW is a small gesture on the part of an individual — a by-product of a hyper-capitalist system that focuses on consumer decisions , rather than bigger systemic issues to tackle environmental disasters .

But according to new research published in the journal Climate Policy , these small actions may have bigger, unappreciated affects. By focusing on electric vehicles and the energy sector, national governments and consumers can generate a set of climate change tipping points that would ultimately catalyze a global movement towards a new, more stable future for us and for our planet.

Why it matters — The proposals set out in the paper are not only desirable in that they offer a chance at a better future for our climate. They also offer a different spin on the climate-crisis tale, where being green is not only the height of fashion, but also a sign of consumer power.

Here's the background — Most climate studies frame tipping points in a negative light . For example, global warming leads to ice sheets melting in the Arctic, which ultimately leads to drought in Africa's Sahel region . That is a tipping point.

But this a limited interpretation, according to Tim Lenton , Director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter. Lenton co-authored the new study with Simon Sharpe , a Deputy Director in the UK Cabinet Office COP 26 unit. (COP 26 is another name for the United Nations' upcoming climate change summit, due to take place in Glasgow, Scotland later this year.)

As Lenton tells Inverse , "Tipping point’ is a general, mathematical concept – it simply refers to situations where a small change leads to a big difference for some ‘system.'"

global warming evs project introduction

A figure from the study illustrating the concept of tipping points applied to electric vehicles.

"The change could be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from a human perspective," Lenton says. "In all cases, there is some reinforcing feedback that amplifies the initial change."

Lenton's study reframes climate 'tipping points' in a positive light, focusing on a series of upward-scaling cascades. Picture a series of waterfalls, but inverted upward.

Each cascade generates an action that creates a bigger action, which generates a bigger action, and so on and so forth. An example of such a positive (depending on whom you ask) cascade would be England's invention of the steamboat, which led to the expansion of coal mining and a rail system, ultimately catapulting the country into the industrial revolution.

More recent examples of cascades, both good and bad, include the 2008 financial crisis and the re-introduction of a keystone predator — wolves — into Yellowstone .

global warming evs project introduction

A young woman plugs in her electric vehicle. The study cites the purchase of electric vehicles as a crucial tipping point in the climate crisis.

What's new — Lenton's study applies the principle of upward cascades to efforts to quell the climate crisis. The study focuses on two key industries that could, theoretically, make a big impact: electric vehicles (EVs) and the energy sector. Unlike other work, this study looks to real-world examples of how both factors have played out in two case studies — electrical vehicle adoption in Norway, and green energy generation in the United Kingdom.

"The paper is founded on tipping points that have already happened – for EVs in Norway and electricity generation in the UK – based on actual data," Lenton says.

"It then goes on to look at what other countries or jurisdictions could work together to ‘cascade’ the tipping points up to global scale – that part hasn’t happened yet, but our choice of jurisdictions is informed by data," Lenton explains."

Right now, electric vehicles only make up to 2-3 percent of new car sales globally, according to the study.

But the study suggests that as electric vehicles become cheaper to produce — and thus, cheaper for consumers to buy — compared to fossil-fuel vehicles in certain countries, that could generate a tipping point that leads to cheaper electric vehicles worldwide.

It would also shift attention away from industries that serve fossil fuel vehicles, and generate more interest in the global manufacture and development of products for EVs, such as long-life batteries . This is one of Elon Musk's biggest efforts, for example, in support of his electric vehicle firm, Tesla.

"In the case of EVs, there are several [tipping points] at work – a key one is that the more batteries we make, the cheaper they get to make — an economy of scale — and this is a crucial determinant of the cost of the electric vehicle," Lenton says.

In other words, it would ultimately shift business incentives away from gas-guzzling cars toward more sustainable electric vehicles on a global scale.

global warming evs project introduction

A figure from the study showing the tipping point as the UK decarbonized its energy sector away from coal.

How it works — Take the example of Norway. According to the study, Norway implemented subsidies that made electric vehicles attractive to consumers. As a result, Norway's EV share is at 50 percent – ten times higher than any other country.

Norway's example could serve as a tipping point for other countries to implement similar policies to incentivize electric vehicles, thereby driving down production costs and making EVs cheaper for consumers.

"There is also a strong social tipping point referred to as ‘social contagion’ – people start following other people’s acquisitions of new technology and the uptake (here of EVs) accelerates," Lenton says.

"Any policy intervention that encourages [the] purchase of EVs can then be reinforced by these feedbacks. That’s what’s happened in Norway, and we describe how it could spread worldwide," he adds.

Right now, he argues, countries have to put in place policies — like subsidies or tax benefits — to get consumers to buy cars. But eventually, consumers will buy electric vehicles without subsidies, because the electric vehicles are cheap enough for most people to afford.

A similar theory can also apply to the energy sector. Many countries and world leaders have called for a shift to renewables in a carbon-neutral future to tackle climate change, including the United States President-Elect Joe Biden .

The study cites the example of the UK, which has decarbonized its energy sector faster than any other country in the world since 2015.

Through a combination of fixed taxes and incentives offered by the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme between 2015 and 2018, the UK made gas cheaper than coal.

This tipping point led to the closure of coal plants, which in turn forced people and industry away from continued coal use, which is a significant contributor to greenhouse gases.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 63 percent of electricity in the United States comes from burning coal and natural gas.

From the UK's example, we can see how small actions can have much greater ripple effects.

As the study states:

"In this way, a small change in the relative prices of carbon, coal and gas led to a disproportionately large decrease in the number of hours coal plants could generate electricity – and revenue."

Why it matters — According to the study, tipping points are reversible. There is a risk of sliding backward and undoing progress generated by these upward cascades.

Initially, national governments to put forward certain policies to make these sectors — electric vehicles and renewables — attractive to business and consumers.

But if a new government comes to power in a country or region with outsized influence on climate change and the energy sector — such as the US or the EU — that is less committed to renewable energy, that could undo these tipping points.

That's why it's important for national governments to begin providing incentives and subsidies now — as the UK did with the energy sector and Norway did in electric vehicles — in order to generate bigger actions that are harder to reverse, such as the shuttering of coal plants.

global warming evs project introduction

Activists demonstrating against global warming. The study says we must act fast to tackle climate change.

What's next — The study acknowledges there is a lot of work to do before we can hit these sweet tipping points.

In order to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 2°C increase per the Paris Agreement , we must act fast. The study states that the energy sector would "needs to decarbonize four times faster" than its current rate, in addition to doubling the rate of transition to electric vehicles.

Some countries and states are already doing their part. The state of California, which the study says has an outsized number of car owners, has already committed to zero-emission vehicles by 2035.

But it's still important for world leaders to act together. According to the study, leaders have historically thought of decarbonizing as a zero-sum game, in which one country shifting away from fossil fuels gives an advantage to another country.

This zero-sum mentality has prevented cooperative action on climate change, especially in making the cost of renewables cheaper.

For example, the study notes that that three countries — China, Japan, and South Korea — provide most of the global capital for new coal plants.

If these three countries acted together — instead of just acting in their own country's best interests — they could significantly raise the cost of coal plants globally, helping to phase out the coal industry altogether.

The study ultimately concludes, "Positive-sum cooperation between small groups of countries could bring this tipping point closer."

Abstract: Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires a dramatic acceleration of decarbonization to reduce net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to zero around mid-century. In complex systems – including human societies – tipping points can occur, in which a small perturbation transforms a system. Crucially activating one tipping point can increase the likelihood of triggering another at a larger scale, and so on. Here, we show how such upward-scaling tipping cascades could accelerate progress in tackling climate change. We focus on two sectors –light road transport and power – where tipping points have already been triggered by policy interventions at individual nation scales. We show how positive-sum cooperation, between small coalitions of jurisdictions and their policymakers, could lead to global changes in the economy and emissions. The aim of activating tipping points and tipping cascades is a particular application of systems thinking. It represents a different starting point for policy to the theory of welfare economics, one that can be useful when the priority is to achieve dynamic rather than allocative efficiency.
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  • Climate Crisis

global warming evs project introduction

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Prospects for electric vehicle deployment

  • Executive summary
  • Electric Vehicles Initiative
  • Electric cars
  • Electric car models
  • Emerging markets
  • Electric light commercial vehicles
  • Electric two- and three-wheelers
  • Trends in electric heavy-duty vehicles
  • Trends in charging infrastructure
  • Trends in batteries
  • Introduction
  • Policy to develop EV supply chains
  • Policy support for electric light-duty vehicles
  • Policy support for electric heavy-duty vehicles
  • Policy support for EV charging infrastructure
  • International initiatives and pledges
  • Electrification plans by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
  • Global spending on electric cars
  • Finance, venture capital and trade

Electric mobility scenarios

Outlook for evs, shrinking implementation gap, oem targets versus projections, battery demand, charging infrastructure, impact on energy demand and emissions, cite report.

IEA (2023), Global EV Outlook 2023 , IEA, Paris https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2023, Licence: CC BY 4.0

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Several pathways to electrify road transport in the period to 2030 are explored in this section. First, deployment of electric vehicles (EVs) is projected by region and road segment for the Stated Policies and Announced Pledges scenarios, and globally by segment for the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario. These projections are then compared to announcements by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Then the corresponding battery demand is projected, followed by roll-out requirements for charging infrastructure. Finally, the impacts of EV deployment are assessed, including increased electricity demand, oil displacement, implications for tax revenues, and net well-to-wheels GHG emissions.

A scenario-based approach is used to explore road transport electrification and its impact, based on the latest market data, policy drivers and technology perspectives. Two IEA scenarios – the Stated Policies and Announced Pledges scenarios – inform the outlooks, which are examined in relation to the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario at the global level. 1 These scenarios are based on announced policies, ambitions and market trends through the first quarter of 2023.

The purpose of the scenarios is to assess plausible futures for global EV markets and the implications they could have. The scenarios do not make predictions about the future. Rather, they aim to provide insights to inform decision-making by governments, companies and stakeholders about the future of EVs.

These scenario projections incorporate GDP and population assumptions from the International Monetary Fund (2022) and United Nations (2022), respectively.

The Stated Policies Scenario reflects existing policies and measures

The Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS) reflects existing policies and measures, as well as firm policy ambitions and objectives that have been legislated by governments around the world. It includes current EV-related policies, regulations and investments, as well as market trends based on the expected impacts of technology developments, announced deployments and plans from industry stakeholders. The STEPS aims to hold up a mirror to the plans of policy makers and illustrate their consequences.

The Announced Pledges Scenario assumes that all announced ambitions and targets made by governments around the world are met in full and on time

The Announced Pledges Scenario (APS) assumes that all announced ambitions and targets made by governments around the world are met in full and on time. With regards to electromobility, it includes all recent major announcements of electrification targets and longer-term net zero emissions and other pledges, regardless of whether these have been anchored in legislation or in updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). For example, the APS assumes that countries that have signed on to the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emissions cars and vans will achieve this goal, even if there are not yet policies or regulations in place to support it. In countries that have not yet made a net zero emissions pledge or set electrification targets, the APS considers the same policy framework as the STEPS. Non-policy assumptions for the APS, including population and economic growth, are the same as in the STEPS.

The difference between the APS and the STEPS represents the “implementation gap” that exists between the policy frameworks and measures required to achieve country ambitions and targets, and the policies and measures that have been legislated.

The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario out a narrow but achievable pathway for the global energy sector to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE Scenario) is a normative scenario that sets out a narrow but achievable pathway for the global energy sector to achieve net zero CO 2 emissions by 2050. The scenario is compatible with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C with no or limited temperature overshoot, in line with reductions assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C . There are many possible paths to achieve net zero CO 2 emissions globally by 2050 and many uncertainties that could affect them. The NZE Scenario is therefore a path and not the path to net zero emissions.

The difference between the NZE Scenario and the APS highlights the “ambition gap” that needs to be closed to achieve the goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Electric vehicle fleet to grow by a factor of eight or more by 2030

The total fleet of EVs (excluding two/three-wheelers) grows from almost 30 million in 2022 to about 240 million in 2030 in the Stated Policies Scenario (STEPS), achieving an average annual growth rate of about 30%. In this scenario, EVs account for over 10% of the road vehicle fleet by 2030. Total EV sales reach over 20 million in 2025 and over 40 million in 2030, representing over 20% and 30% of all vehicle sales, respectively. 

Electric vehicle stock by mode in the Announced Pledges Scenario, 2022-2030

Electric vehicle stock by mode in the stated policies scenario, 2022-2030.

In the Announced Pledged Scenario (APS), based on announced government targets and pledges that go beyond existing policies, the global EV fleet reaches almost 250 million in 2030, around 5% higher than in the STEPS. The average annual growth rate in the APS is nearly 35%, with the result that one in seven vehicles on the road is an EV in 2030. Total EV sales reach 45 million in 2030, representing over 35% of all vehicle sales. 

Electric vehicle sales by region, 2022-2030

The global EV sales share in 2030 in the STEPS is about half that in the NZE Scenario, in which the fleet of EVs grows more rapidly, at an average annual rate of around 40%, reaching 380 million EVs on the road in 2030. Electric vehicle sales reach over 30 million in 2025 and over 70 million in 2030, a total of approximately 30% and 60% of all vehicle sales, respectively. 

The sales share of electric LDVs thus increases from 13% in 2022 to around 35% in 2030 in the Stated Policies Scenario

Light-duty vehicles (LDVs), including passenger light-duty vehicles (PLDVs) and light commercial vehicles (LCVs), continue to make up the majority of electric vehicles (excluding two/three-wheelers). This is a result of strong policy support, including light-duty vehicle fuel economy or CO 2 standards, the availability of EV models, and the size of the LDV market. In the STEPS, electric LDV sales are projected to reach over 20 million in 2025, doubling the number of sales in 2022, and to quadruple to 40 million in 2030. The sales share of electric LDVs thus increases from 13% in 2022 to over 20% in 2025 and around 35% in 2030. The stock of electric LDVs reaches about 230 million in 2030, meaning that about one in every seven LDVs on the road is electric.

In the APS, the fleet of electric LDVs reaches over 240 million in 2030, a 15% stock share. Of these, 230 million are electric PLDVs, with only 6% being LCVs. Sales of electric LDVs reach almost 45 million in 2030 in the APS, representing a sales share of 40%. These results reflect government electrification ambitions and net zero pledges, including the 2021 COP 26 declaration target to achieve 100% zero-emission LDV sales by 2040, and by 2035 in leading markets, which 40 national governments have committed to.

In the NZE Scenario, the sales share of electric LDVs reaches 30% in 2025, four years earlier than in the STEPS. In 2030, the sales share is over 60%, about 80% higher than in the STEPS and 55% higher than in the APS.

Under stated policies, one in ten buses sold in 2030 will be electric

Governments have made significant progress in electrifying public bus fleets. In 2022, there were more than 800 000 electric buses on the road, representing over 3% of all buses. As such, buses are the most electrified road segment, excluding two/three-wheelers. In the STEPS, the electric bus fleet reaches 1.4 million in 2025 and 2.7 million in 2030, at which point around one in ten buses will be electric. In the near term, electrification is expected to progress most rapidly within the publicly owned urban bus fleet, which is covered by government procurement regulations and, in some cases, government funding. For example, Canada is aiming to put 5 000 electric public and school buses on the road by the end of 2025 via the CAD 2.75 billion Zero Emission Transit Fund .

In the APS, the electric bus fleet exceeds 3 million in 2030, reaching a stock share of over 10%. In 2030, about a quarter of buses sold are electric, which is about 35% higher than the sales share in the STEPS. In part, this increase is due to the proposed EU heavy-duty vehicle CO 2 standards , which would require 100% zero-emission city bus sales from 2030. In the NZE Scenario, the electrification of buses is even more rapid, with one in two buses sold in 2030 being electric.

By 2030, the fleet of electric trucks reaches almost 3.5 million in the Stated Policies Scenario

Medium- and heavy-duty trucks are more difficult to electrify than other road segments, due in part to the size, weight and cost of the batteries needed to fully electrify this segment. However, progress is being made: around 320 000 electric trucks were on the road in 2022. By 2030, the fleet of electric trucks reaches almost 3.5 million in the STEPS, over 3% of the total truck fleet.

In the APS, the stock of electric trucks exceeds 4 million in 2030, a stock share of 4%. Electric truck sales increase from a negligible share today to over 9% in the STEPS in 2030 and 13% in the APS. The increased sales in the APS are driven in particular by the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles , through which 27 countries have now pledged to reach 30% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicle 2 sales by 2030 and 100% by 2040. In addition, the European Union has proposed HDV CO 2 standards that would require a 45% reduction in emissions in 2030 compared to 2019 levels.

In the NZE Scenario, electric trucks reach 30% of sales in 2030, which is aligned with the Global MoU on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty vehicles. However, this sales share is still two-and-a-half times that in the APS, and over three times that in the STEPS.

Two/three-wheelers are currently the most electrified road transport segment

Two/three-wheelers are currently the most electrified road transport segment. Given the vehicles’ light weight and limited daily driving distance, battery electrification is relatively easy and makes economic sense on a total cost of ownership basis in many regions. In 2022, the electric two/three-wheeler fleet totalled over 50 million, reaching a stock share of around 7%.

In the STEPS, the fleet of electric two/three-wheelers reaches 220 million in 2030, or a quarter of the total two/three-wheeler fleet. In the APS, the stock grows to 280 million, and almost 30% of all two/three-wheelers are electric. The electric sales share in 2030 reaches 50% in the STEPS and 60% in the APS. In the NZE Scenario, the electric two/three-wheeler sales share reaches almost 80% in 2030.

Closing the implementation gap: how EV policy is catching up with targets

Targets and ambitions for clean energy technology deployment are generally more easily formulated than they are achieved, but in the case of EVs, the momentum is clearly on the side of achievement. Strong market uptake in 2022, combined with major policy announcements over the past year, have led to a significant upward revision of EV deployment to 2030 in the STEPS presented in this edition of the Global EV Outlook compared to the 2022 edition . The projected sales shares of EVs based on stated policies and market trends are now coming close to country stated ambitions for EVs, meaning that the policy implementation gap – the difference between country deployment ambitions and the policies currently in place – in the 2023 Outlook is much smaller than in the 2022 edition.

This is most notable for light-duty vehicles, where recent policies such as the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and new EU CO 2 standards for cars and vans have resulted in a significantly higher EV sales share in 2030 in the STEPS. In this year’s Outlook, under announced ambitions, the electric car sales share exceeds 40% in 2030 compared to 35% under stated policies: this gap has more than halved in the past year. For trucks and buses, the EV sales share in 2030 in the STEPS also increased faster than ambition. As a result, the gap between ambition and legislated policies for HDVs is half of what it was in the 2022 Outlook. 

Electric car sales share implementation gap in Global EV Outlook 2023

Electric car sales share implementation gap in global ev outlook 2022.

Realising the potential of EVs to support government climate (as well as energy security) ambitions is thus almost in reach under current policy frameworks. In particular, the gap between policy and ambition has closed in three of the largest EV markets: the European Union, the United States and China. At the global level, oil displacement by EVs reaches 1.8 million barrels per day in 2025 (over 5 mb/d in 2030) under stated policies. As a result, global demand for oil-based road transport fuels will peak by 2025.

The momentum seen over the past year in terms of increasing EV sales and new supportive policies being introduced, along with funding designated for the necessary infrastructure (for example, the USD 5 billion allocated in the US IIJA to support EV charger installation), have also led industry players to invest more in EV supply chains. Notably, planned EV battery manufacturing expansions are set to increase capacity more than fourfold, reaching 6.8 TWh/year of production capacity in 2030, 65% higher than is needed to enable the level of EV deployment in the APS. Taken together, this suggests that even higher EV deployment than is implied by the APS is achievable by 2030 if policy efforts are sustained and critical potential bottlenecks (such as around recharging infrastructure and mining) are addressed early on.

The implementation gap between stated policies and country ambitions is shrinking in most major electric vehicle markets

Electric vehicle sales shares by mode in the stated policies and the announced pledges scenarios in selected countries and regions, 2030, electric ldv sales in china reach 60% in 2030 under stated policies.

China once again exceeded expectations for electric car sales in 2022, reaching a sales share of around 29%. As such, the government’s target of 20% new energy vehicle sales in 2025 was comfortably met three years ahead of time. China has gradually reduced its purchase subsidies for EVs since 2017, but electric car sales have continued to increase strongly. It is expected that sales will continue to grow due, in part, to the increasing availability of affordable EV models, despite 2023 being the first year without any subsidy.

The sales share of electric cars and vans reaches almost 45% by 2025 in the STEPS, and over 60% in 2030. Given that the government’s electrification targets have already been met, and that 60% electric light-duty vehicle sales in 2030 is on track with China’s carbon neutrality by 2060 pledge, the electric LDV sales shares to 2030 in the APS are the same as in the STEPS. In fact, 60% electric LDV sales in 2030 is in line with the global share in the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario.

China is the global leader in terms of electric share of the two/three-wheeler fleet, with more than one-third of all two/three-wheelers being electric. In both the STEPS and APS, China is expected to remain the leader in electric two/three-wheeler sales. In the STEPS, the sales share of electric two/three-wheelers reaches almost 80% in 2030. The APS follows the same trends to 2030.

China also has one of the highest stock shares of electric buses, reaching nearly 15% in 2022 and totalling over 750 000 (>95% of the global stock). In 2030, the sales share of electric buses increases to 50% in both scenarios, up from 18% in 2022. While electric sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks are significantly lower than other road modes, China also led in electric truck stock in 2022, with over 95% of the world’s electric trucks. Electric truck sales are projected to reach a sales share of nearly one-quarter in 2030 in both scenarios. Given that other countries have announced truck electrification targets, China’s lack of announced ambitions means that other countries achieve higher sales shares in the APS.

The sales share of EVs across all road transport modes (excluding two/three-wheelers) reaches around 60% in 2030 in both scenarios. Across all modes, the current market dynamics, and the policy landscape as considered in the STEPS to 2030, is sufficient to bring EV sales shares high enough to be in line with China’s ambition of climate neutrality by 2060, as well as with provincial electrification targets. As such, in China there is no gap between what current policy frameworks have legislated for and what the targets are. 

Ambition gap in Europe has closed dramatically thanks to new policies

Europe maintains its status as one of the most advanced EV markets in the STEPS through 2030 in light of recent market trends and a supportive policy landscape. The 2023 adoption of stricter CO 2 standards for cars and vans in the European Union has significantly increased electric LDV sales shares in the STEPS. To meet the 2030 target of 55% emissions reduction for cars and 50% reduction for vans (compared to 2021 levels), the electric LDV sales share in the European Union increases from around 20% in 2022 to almost 65% in 2030. For Europe as a whole, electric LDV sales increase from 19% in 2022 to almost 60% in 2030. Given that the European Union has now legislated to the level of ambition laid out in the Fit for 55 package , there is no implementation gap for the European Union with respect to LDVs. The electric LDV sales share in 2030 for Europe, however, is slightly higher in the APS than the STEPS, reaching almost 65% in the APS. This is primarily driven by additional EV sales based on the United Kingdom’s proposed ZEV mandate trajectory, which has the overall ambition to reach 100% zero-emission sales in 2035, as well as the eight non-EU countries in Europe 3 that have joined the Accelerating to Zero Coalition .

For buses and trucks, the EU Clean Vehicles Directive sets minimum requirements for the procurement of “clean” public buses and trucks that vary by member state, with average minimum sales of 33-65% clean buses and 7-15% clean trucks from 2026 to 2030. A number of European countries also offer financial incentives for electric buses and trucks in the form of tax exemptions, purchase subsidies and funding to support heavy-duty charging infrastructure. In the STEPS, the sales shares of electric buses and trucks reach 40% and 10% respectively in 2030. Within the European Union the sales shares reach 55% and around 13% in 2030. The APS takes into account the European Union’s proposed heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) CO 2 standards , which would require 100% of city bus sales to be zero-emission from 2030, and other heavy-duty vehicles to reduce CO 2 emission by 45% from 2030 compared to 2019 levels. In addition, the APS includes the ambitions of 18 European national governments 4 who have signed the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles to reach 30% zero-emission HDV sales shares in 2030 and 100% in 2040.

In Europe, the EV sales share across all modes (excluding two/three-wheelers) is 55% in 2030 in the STEPS. In the APS, Europe has a combined EV sales share of over 60% in 2030 (for electric LDVs, buses and trucks), which is in line with the global trajectory in the NZE Scenario. Last year, the implementation gap in Europe in terms of EV sales share in 2030 was about 15 percentage points. This has now shrunk to six percentage points, with greater increases in EV sales shares in the STEPS, due to new regulations and market trends, than in the APS due to the additional signatories to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) initiatives and the proposed EU HDV CO 2 standards. For the European Union, the implementation gap in 2030 across all modes (excluding two/three-wheelers) has closed from over 10 percentage points in the 2022 Outlook to 1 percentage point.

The United States is on track to reach 50% EV sales in 2030

With a supportive policy landscape, sales of electric cars and vans are expected to accelerate over the remainder of this decade in the United States, reaching the government target of 50% in 2030. With the foundation of stricter US fuel economy standards for 2024-26 legislated in 2021, 5 a slate of new measures are expected to promote uptake of electric LDVs, namely: financial incentives for electric cars included in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), allocated funding for EV charging infrastructure in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and growing adoption of California’s Advanced Clean Cars II (ACC II) regulations by a number of states. The implementation gap between the STEPS and APS LDV sales in 2030 has fully closed due to the passing of the IRA and adoption of the ACC II regulations in 2022.

The IRA also includes a tax credit for the purchase of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks, as well as for the installation of EV chargers. In the STEPS, the sales share of electric trucks reaches 10% in 2030. In 2022, the United States signed the Global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles , with a 2030 target of 30% zero-emission vehicles sales across buses and trucks. As such, the electric truck sales share reaches slightly less than 30% (which is balanced by higher bus sales shares to achieve the overarching target) in 2030 in the APS. The electric bus sales share reaches more than 40% in 2030 in the APS, compared to about 30% in the STEPS.

In the United States the EV sales share across all modes (excluding two/three-wheelers) reaches almost 50% in both the STEPS and APS. Thus, the implementation gap for EV sales shares in the United States shrank from around a 30 percentage points difference in 2030 last year to a negligible difference in this year’s Outlook.

Electric LDV sales in Japan reach 20-30% in 2030

In Japan, the sales share of electric cars and vans increases from 3% in 2022 to 20% in 2030 in the STEPS, in part to comply with the 2030 fuel economy standards for passenger cars . In the APS, electrification of LDVs increases more rapidly to reach 30% in 2030, which is in line with the government’s target of 20-30% EV sales for passenger light-duty vehicles and 20-30% electrified vehicle sales for light commercial vehicles .

Japan also has fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles , which state that efficiency must improve by around 13% for trucks and 14% for buses by the fiscal year 2025 compared to 2015. In 2030, in the STEPS, the electric bus sales share reaches almost 30% and the electric truck sales share reaches over 10%. Japan’s Green Growth Strategy also sets targets for commercial vehicles, including that 100% of new commercial vehicle sales should be electrified or suitable for the use of decarbonised fuels by 2040. In the APS, sales of electric trucks amount to almost 15% in 2030, while the electric bus sales share reaches about 55%.

In Japan, the EV sales share across all modes (excluding two/three-wheelers) is 20% in 2030 in the STEPS and about 30% in the APS. The “implementation gap” has remained the same over the past year, as no new policies or ambitions for EVs were announced. 

Under announced ambitions, India reaches an EV sales share of 30% in 2030

India is one of the largest two-wheeler markets in the world, and both the national and local governments are promoting electric two-wheelers. For example, modifications to the FAME-II scheme in 2021 increased purchase incentives for electric two-wheelers to cover up to 40% of the price. The sales share of electric two/three-wheelers in India increases from around 7% in 2022 to almost 50% in 2030 in the STEPS. In addition, various Indian states have sales or stock targets for electric two- and/or three-wheelers, including Assam, Gujarat, Karntaka and Maharashtra. In the APS, the sales share of electric two/three-wheelers reaches over 60% in 2030.

The rate of electrification of buses and LDVs is lower, reaching about 20% and 15% respectively in 2030 in the STEPS. In the APS, electric buses reach a sales share of more than 25% and electric cars and vans a share of more than 30% in 2030. The APS reflects India signing the COP 26 declaration to transition to 100% zero-emission LDV sales by 2040 . While there is no national target for electric buses, four Indian states (containing around 15% of India’s population) aim to reach 100% electric bus sales by 2030 or earlier.

The EV sales share across all modes (including two/three-wheelers) in India is about 40% in 2030 in the STEPS (and closer to 14% if two/three-wheelers are excluded). In the APS, EV sales shares in India scale up to over 50% in 2030 across all road vehicle modes (30% excluding two/three-wheelers). The “implementation gap” in India, in terms of EV sales shares, is therefore about 15 percentage points.

In other regions, Canada and Korea reach an electric LDV sales share of over 30% under stated policies

The number of countries around the world that have not yet developed a clear vision for electromobility or set targets is declining over time. In emerging and developing economies in particular, adoption of EVs can be hindered by a lack of fiscal incentives, limited availability of charging infrastructure and purchase price hurdles, but the Global Electric Mobility Programme is working with governments in low- and middle-income countries to advance deployment of EVs.

In the STEPS, the average EV sales share across regions and countries other than those listed above is about 8% for LDVs, 6% for buses and 1% for trucks in 2030. In the APS, sales across these other regions reach over 15% of LDVs, 10% of buses and 2% of trucks. The countries that have adopted EV-related policies and set ambitions tend to have higher EV sales shares than these averages. For example, Canada and Korea both have fuel economy standards for light-duty vehicles and purchase incentives for electric LDVs, and as such the electric LDV sales shares reach over 30% in both Canada and Korea in 2030 in the STEPS, which increase to around 60% for both in the APS. 

In most regions, the combined EV sales shares targeted by OEMs are either in step with or more ambitious than government pledges in the Announced Pledges Scenario

In most regions, the combined EV sales shares targeted by OEMs are either in step with or more ambitious than government pledges in the APS.

In addition to the new targets that OEMs have outlined for zero-emission and electric vehicle sales for LDVs (see Electrification plans by original equipment manufacturers) , several announcements were made by heavy-duty OEMs in the past year. In the United States, Navistar announced targets of 50% zero-emission new vehicle sales by 2030 and 100% by 2040. In China, carbon neutrality (rather than new energy vehicle [NEV] sales shares) targets of heavy-duty OEMs have typically been at the group or brand level; Dongfeng , BAIC Group , FAW , and SAIC have set targets for carbon peaking, carbon neutrality or net zero emissions, or some combination of the three.

In the LDV market, OEM announcements are most ambitious in Europe, and roughly equally ambitious in the United States and China. The corporate targets in all three markets have followed announcements of policy ambition and commitments to transition to net zero emissions by 2050 in the United States and the European Union and by 2060 in China, showing how policy ambitions can spur corporate announcements.

In contrast, pivotal policies passed over the past year in the United States (including the IRA) have thus far not translated into OEMs in North America raising their announced level of ambition for electric cars and vans (with the exception of GM’s near-term EV sales targets ). However, the new legislation has encouraged OEMs to make massive investments in EV batteries and production facilities based in North America.

Original Equipment Manufacturer targets and registrations in the Stated Policies and Announced Pledges scenarios, 2030

In a market where EV sales shares currently exceed government targets, projected sales in the STEPS and APS are well aligned with OEM ambitions. New targets were announced by Geely, SAIC-GM-Wuling, BAIC Group and FAW Group in 2022, and BYD ended production of conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in early 2022 (see Electrification plans by original equipment manufacturers ).

The electrification plans of OEMs anticipated the adoption of the new EU CO 2 standards for cars and vans, with the result that combined OEM ambitions roughly match or exceed the 2030 electric LDV sales share in the STEPS. New LDV electrification ambitions in the European market have been announced by Ford, Volkswagen, and BMW (see Electrification plans by original equipment manufacturers ). Heavy-duty vehicle makers are most ambitious about the European market, with targets reaching around 40% zero-emission vehicles sales in 2030. This exceeds what is projected in the STEPS and APS, despite the European Commission’s proposal for a 100% zero-emission target for city buses for 2030, and a 90% CO 2 reduction target for trucks for 2040.

United States

In the US LDV market, OEM ambitions match or exceed the government’s target of 50% EV sales by 2030. However, OEM ambitions in the heavy-duty sector lag behind what is projected in the APS, despite the targets announced by Navistar in 2022. In part this is due to the United States becoming one of eleven new country signatories to the Global MoU on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles in the past year, which recently increased ambition.

Announced battery manufacturing capacity in 2030 narrowly covers what would be required to fulfil demand for EV batteries in the Net Zero Scenario

Global EV battery demand increased by about 65% in 2022, reaching around 550 GWh, about the same level as EV battery production. The lithium-ion automotive battery manufacturing capacity in 2022 was roughly 1.5 TWh for the year, implying a utilisation rate of around 35% compared to about 43% in 2021.

Battery demand is set to increase significantly by 2030, reaching over 3 TWh in the STEPS and about 3.5 TWh in the APS. To meet that demand, more than 50 gigafactories (each with 35 GWh of annual production capacity) would be needed by 2030 in the STEPS in addition to today’s battery production capacity. This increases to close to 65 new gigafactories to meet 2030 demand in the APS. According to Benchmark Mineral Intelligence (as of March 2023), the announced battery production capacity by private companies for EVs in 2030 amounts to 6.8 TWh, plenty sufficient to meet demand in both the STEPS and APS. In the NZE Scenario, battery demand reaches over 5.5 TWh in 2030. Assuming an average utilisation rate of battery production facilities of 85%, 6 announced capacity in 2030 narrowly covers what is needed in the NZE Scenario.

China is expected to dominate demand for EV batteries up to 2025, in both the STEPS and the APS. However, in the APS, China’s share of EV battery demand declines to about 35% in 2030, from over 55% in 2022, due to significant growth in EV sales in the United States, Europe and other markets.

Projected battery demand by region, 2022-2030

Projected battery demand by mode, 2022-2030.

Electric cars and vans are expected to continue to dominate total battery demand for EVs, accounting for around 90% of demand in both scenarios. In the APS, battery demand is projected to reach 120 GWh for buses and 160 GWh for two/three-wheelers in 2030. Battery demand for trucks increases significantly, reaching about 80 GWh in the STEPS and 170 GWh in the APS by 2030.

Requirements for light-duty vehicle charging

Today, the majority of electric car and van charging relies on private chargers, mainly at the driver’s residence. Early adopters of electric cars and vans have tended to live in single-family detached homes, where home charging is more convenient and more affordable than using public chargers. For example, around 80% of EV owners in the United States live in single-family homes. Assuming that access to home charging covers 50-80% of the electric LDV fleet, varying according to the share of population residing in dense urban areas, there were an estimated 17.5 million home chargers in 2022. The stock of home chargers increases to 135 million in 2030 in the STEPS and 145 million in the APS.

To strengthen EV adoption across population segments that live in multi-unit dwellings, where charger availability may be limited, access to public and workplace charging becomes increasingly important. The stock of workplace chargers increases about eightfold by 2030 across the scenarios, while the number of public chargers increases around fivefold.

By 2030, the total installed LDV charger capacity grows more than ninefold to 1.9 TW in the STEPS, and to more than 2 TW in the APS. For reference, the total installed capacity of solar PV worldwide in 2021 stood at less than 1 TW. The capacity of public fast chargers grows at the fastest rate, increasing fifteen-fold by 2030 in the APS, despite the stock of public fast chargers increasing only around fivefold. In 2030, the average capacity of fast chargers is about 13 times that of public slow chargers and over 20 times that of private (home and workplace) slow chargers.

In 2030, less than 20% of the LDV stock is electric in the APS in most countries. As a result, it is expected that the majority of EV owners in 2030 will continue to have access to residential chargers, and the majority (around 60%) of electricity delivered to electric cars and vans will come from these home chargers. Public chargers provide about 30% of the electricity needed to power the electric LDV fleet worldwide in 2030. 

Regional trends in public charging infrastructure for cars and vans

Public charging projections are based on the general trend of a decreasing ratio of charging points per EV over time as the market matures and the system is optimised, while maintaining reasonable charging capacity per EV.

At the end of 2022, China accounted for about 50% of the electric LDV stock and 65% of public LDV chargers. China is expected to remain a leader in public charger deployment to 2030, in part due to limited home charger access. In 2030, the stock of public LDV fast chargers reaches almost 5 million in the APS from less than 1 million in 2022, and China’s share reduces from about 85% of public fast chargers to 70%, as other regions build out their network to keep pace with EV deployment targets. The number of public slow chargers remains higher than fast chargers in both scenarios, increasing from about 1.8 million in 2022 to 8 million in 2030 in the STEPS and over 8.2 million in the APS. 

Number of public LDV slow chargers installed by region and by scenario, 2022-2030

Number of public ldv fast chargers installed by region and by scenario, 2022-2030.

The total number of public chargers needed to support LDV electrification in China in 2030 is estimated to be around 7.5 million, with a fairly even split between fast and slow chargers. In 2025, the stock of electric vehicle supply equipment already exceeds 4 million charging points. In terms of targets, the China National Development and Reform Commission has said that charging infrastructure should be sufficient to meet the needs of more than 20 million EVs by 2025. However, in both scenarios, the projected stock of electric cars and vans in China in 2025 is over 40 million. In the IEA scenarios there is therefore a ratio of over nine electric LDVs per public charging point in 2025, slightly higher than the eight electric LDVs per public charging point witnessed in 2022.

In Europe, the stock of public LDV chargers increases to around 2.4 million in 2030 in both the STEPS and APS, up from about half a million in 2022. In both scenarios, about 80% of the European public charging stock is in the European Union, or around 2 million chargers in 2030.

In March 2023, the European Parliament and Council provisionally agreed to the proposed Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR), which sets requirements for the total power capacity to be provided by public charging infrastructure based on the size of the registered fleet and coverage requirements for the trans-European network-transport (TEN-T). In the APS, the stock share of electric LDVs reaches over 10% for BEVs and 5% for PHEVs, while the public charging capacity averages about 1.6 kW per EV.

The United Kingdom has announced a strategy to deliver the charging infrastructure to support a 2030 phase-out of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, which includes the target of at least 300 000 public chargers by 2030 and a minimum of 6 000 fast chargers by 2035. In the APS, the stock of public chargers reaches around 280 000 in 2030, of which about 80 000 are fast chargers. This means that the share of fast chargers in the total public electric vehicle supply equipment stock increases to around 30%, from 20% in the past few years. The number of electric LDVs per charging point is around 35 and the charging capacity is around 1.5 kW per EV.

In the United States, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program , established by the IIJA of 2021, will distribute up to USD 5 billion in funds from 2022-2026 to support the development of an EV charging network, with a target of 500 000 chargers. In the APS, this level of public electric vehicle supply equipment deployment is required before the end of 2025, and the number of chargers reaches over 1.3 million in 2030. In 2030, there are about 30 electric LDVs per charging point.

Japan’s Green Growth Strategy sets a target of installing 150 000 charging points by 2030, including 30 000 fast chargers, with the goal of achieving the same level of convenience as refuelling gasoline vehicles. In the APS, the stock of LDV charging points reaches over 200 000 in 2030, of which about 70 000 are fast chargers. Such a ratio increases the share of fast chargers only a few percentage points, from about 30% in 2022 to 34% in 2030.

In India, FAME II provides financing and sets objectives for charging infrastructure, for example that chargers be established every 25 km along major highways. In March 2023, the Ministry of Heavy Industries also announced financial assistance for upstream electric vehicle supply equipment infrastructure. In the APS, the stock of public electric LDV charging points reaches 550 000 in 2030, meaning there are fewer than 15 electric LDVs per charging point. 

Requirements for heavy-duty vehicle charging

In general, slow charging of EVs is cheaper than fast or ultra-fast charging. For HDVs, overnight charging at bus and truck depots is the most convenient way to charge at rates of less than 350-400 kW, which would require close to a one-to-one ratio of depot chargers per electric HDV.

Battery electric trucks and buses with daily ranges that exceed what can be provided from an overnight charge will also need to charge during the day. This daytime charging can take place at the depot or at an opportunity charger (either at public or semi-public charging stations, or at destinations). Destination chargers can be installed at locations where the vehicle has planned idle time, such as distribution centres where trucks are parked for loading and unloading, or at terminal bus stops. For long-distance applications, such as intercity bus routes and long-haul trucking, some charging will likely need to take place along highways during breaks.

Through the remainder of this decade, the adoption of electric HDVs is expected to centre on city buses and urban and regional delivery applications with short range routes (under 200 km/day), so that operations do not need to depend on opportunity charging. However, as the electrification of HDV segments that travel longer daily distances increases over time, opportunity chargers – especially highway charging – will be required. High-voltage connections that may be required for HDV opportunity chargers have long lead times, and so planning is needed in the short-term to ensure adequate availability in the medium- to long-term. 

In the STEPS, the number of bus depot chargers increases from about 800 000 in 2022 to 2.5 million in 2030, reaching a total capacity of around 250 GW. The number of opportunity chargers needed for buses in 2030 is relatively low, assuming that buses travelling on short routes are electrified first; the stock of opportunity bus chargers reaches around 5 000, with an installed capacity of just over 1.2 GW. In the APS in 2030, the stock of depot bus chargers is around 3 million, reaching a capacity of about 315 GW, while the number of opportunity bus chargers is only slightly more than 6 500 (1.6 GW of capacity).

To power the growing stock of electric trucks, the number of depot chargers increases from around 300 000 today to 3.5 million in 2030 in the STEPS and 4.2 million in the APS. The installed capacity of truck depot chargers is about 310 GW in the STEPS and 380 GW in the APS in 2030. As with buses, the number of depot chargers needed in 2030 is far greater than the number of opportunity chargers. In the STEPS, the number of opportunity truck chargers is about 13 500 (6.5 GW installed capacity), increasing to 25 000 (13 GW installed capacity) in the APS in 2030.

Electricity demand for EVs accounts for only a minor share of global electricity consumption in 2030 in the Announced Pledges Scenario

The global EV fleet consumed about 110 TWh of electricity in 2022, which equates roughly to the current total electricity demand in the Netherlands. Almost a quarter of the total EV electricity consumption was for electric cars in China, and a fifth for electric buses in the same country. Electricity demand for EVs accounts for less than half a percent of current total final electricity consumption worldwide, and still less than one percent of China’s final electricity consumption.

Electricity demand for EVs is projected to reach over 950 TWh in the STEPS and about 1 150 TWh in the APS in 2030. Notably, electricity demand in the APS is about 20% higher than in the STEPS, despite the stock of EVs only being about 15% higher. This is in part due to higher rates of electrification in many high-average vehicle mileage markets such as the United States, but also to greater electrification in the truck and bus segments, which contribute incrementally to vehicle stock, but have a high electricity demand per vehicle. In addition, it is assumed that in countries with net zero pledges, a larger share of energy consumption in PHEVs is provided by electricity (as opposed to gasoline or diesel). This is particularly relevant for cars and vans, which account for about two-thirds of demand in both scenarios.

By 2030, electricity demand for EVs accounts for less than 4% of global final electricity consumption in both scenarios. As shown in the World Energy Outlook 2022 , in 2030 the share of electricity for EVs is relatively small compared to demand for industrial applications, appliances or cooling and heating.

The growing EV stock will reduce oil use, which today accounts for over 90% of total final consumption in the transport sector. Globally, the projected EV fleet in 2030 displaces more than 5 million barrels per day (mb/d) of diesel and gasoline in the STEPS and almost 6 mb/d in the APS, up from about 0.7 mb/d in 2022. For reference, Australia consumed around 1 mb/d of oil products across all sectors in 2021.

However, recent price volatility for critical minerals that are important inputs to battery manufacturing, and market tension affecting supply chains, are a stark reminder that in the transition to electromobility, energy security considerations evolve and require regular reconsideration.

How much oil really gets displaced by electric vehicles?

Oil displacement through the use of EVs can be estimated by assuming that the distance (total kilometres) travelled by EVs by segment each year would have otherwise been travelled by ICE vehicles or hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) (based on the stock shares of each). In the case of PHEVs, only the distance covered by electricity gets included. The stock average fuel consumption of gasoline and diesel vehicles determines the total liquid fuel displacement, where the biofuel portion is taken out of the estimate based on regional blending rates. As a result, it can be estimated that in 2022, the stock of EVs displaced 700 000 barrels of oil per day.

This method of estimation assumes that EVs replace ICE or hybrid vehicles of the same segment, as opposed to some other means of transport, i.e. an electric car replaces an ICE car. The accuracy of this assumption is uncertain, in particular with respect to two-wheelers. In IEA analysis, only two-wheelers that fit the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) classification of L1 or L3 are considered. This definition excludes micromobility options such as electric-assisted bicycles and low-speed electric scooters, leading to a significantly lower stock (around 80% lower) than when including micromobility segments.

Whether or not electric micromobility avoids oil use is uncertain, as it might displace manual bicycles or walking rather than ICE two-wheelers. At the same time, there is evidence that in some cases micromobility displaces personal car or taxi trips . The estimate of the amount of oil use that is avoided by two-wheeled micromobility therefore strongly depends on the assumptions about the mode that is being displaced.

The case of China, which represents over 95% of the global stock of two-wheeled electric micromobility, is a good example. Assuming that all two-wheeled micromobility in China replaces conventional ICE two-wheelers would increase oil displacement by 260 kb/d (or 160%). If instead electric micromobility was assumed to replace only bus trips, then the total oil displacement from two-wheelers in China would increase by just 10 kb/d (10%). However, if it was assumed that they displaced car trips, then oil use avoided by two-wheelers in China would be more than 1 mb/d higher. Including oil displacement from the two-wheeled electric micromobility segment in China alone can therefore increase the estimated 2022 global oil displacement from all electric vehicles anywhere from 1% to 160%. But there is significant uncertainty as to whether any oil is displaced at all.

Taxes on petroleum-based road fuels can be a significant source of income for governments

Taxes on petroleum-based road fuels can be a significant source of income for governments, 7 and are often used to support investments in transport infrastructure, such as roads and bridges. Given the levels of oil displacement discussed above, the transition to EVs will reduce these tax revenues. Additional tax revenue from electricity will not be sufficient to fully compensate for this reduction, both because taxes on electricity tend to be lower on an energy basis and because EVs are more efficient and thus use less energy than ICE vehicles.

In 2022, the transition to electric vehicle stock displaced around USD 11 billion in gasoline and diesel tax revenues globally. At the same time, the use of EVs generated around USD 2 billion in electricity tax revenue, meaning there was a net loss of around USD 9 billion. Although China has the greatest stock of EVs, the greatest impact on tax revenues was seen in Europe, a trend which is expected to continue into the future. This is because Europe has some of the highest taxes on gasoline and diesel; for example, the gasoline tax rate in Germany is almost ten times the rate in China.

As the number of EVs increases globally, government fuel tax revenues are expected to decline, with global net tax losses increasing by around two-and-a-half times by 2025 in both STEPS and APS. By 2030, this totals about USD 60 billion in 2030 in the STEPS, and about USD 70 billion in the APS. Europe is most affected, with fuel tax revenue to decline by around USD 50 billion in 2030 in the APS. Possible tax losses in countries outside of Europe, China and the United States increase to more than USD 20 billion, of which Korea represents about one-third. Impacts in the United States appear limited, with a total net loss of tax revenue of less than half a billion USD in 2030. However, this value is based on federal tax rates and thus does not represent the full impact at the state level. In 2022, the state tax rate on gasoline was on average around 70% higher than federal rate.

Net tax implications of electric vehicle adoption by region, 2022-2030

Governments need to anticipate a reduction in fuel tax revenues and develop new tax strategies to maintain revenue levels without discouraging the adoption of EVs. In the short-term, governments can increase tax rates to balance the decline in fossil fuel use, for example through a fuel tax escalator . However, this type of measure can be politically unpopular and create equity issues, especially in times of relatively high oil prices.

Longer-term measures to stabilise tax revenues that involve deeper reforms in tax schemes should be gradually phased in to allow for smooth adaptation to new vehicle technologies. For example, these reforms could include coupling higher taxes on carbon-intensive fuels with distance-based charges. While comprehensive tax reform can also address vehicle taxes (including vehicle weight-based taxes), an increase in taxes on EVs should only take place when the EV market is fairly mature, ideally when price parity has been reached.

Importantly, widespread EV adoption will reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, which should reduce health and environmental damage and their associated societal costs. In addition, distance-based charges, such as those that vary by time, place and vehicle type, could also reduce traffic congestion, noise and road infrastructure damage.

In the Stated Policies Scenario, the net GHG emissions avoided through the use of EVs reaches nearly 700 Mt CO2-equivalent in 2030

In 2022, EVs enabled a net reduction of about 80 Mt of GHG emissions, on a well-to-wheels basis. The biggest savings were achieved from EVs in China, where almost 30% of global emissions reductions come from the electrification of passenger cars in China. As the EV fleet continues to grow, it will contribute to further reducing GHG emissions on well-to-wheel basis through 2030. The net GHG benefit of EVs increases over time as the electricity sector is decarbonised. The global average GHG intensity of electricity generation and delivery falls from 2022 to 2030 by 28% in the STEPS, and by 37% in the APS.

In the STEPS, the net GHG emissions avoided through the use of EVs reaches nearly 700 Mt CO 2 -equivalent in 2030. The production of electricity to fuel the EV fleet in 2030 in the STEPS results in 290 Mt CO 2 -eq emissions, but this is more than offset by the avoidance of 980 Mt CO 2 -eq that would have been emitted from an equivalent ICE vehicle fleet.

In the APS, the GHG emissions reduction benefit of EV adoption increases further, due to both a higher stock of EVs and a lower GHG intensity of electricity generation. The net GHG emissions avoided in 2030 are over 770 Mt CO 2 -eq.

In the STEPS and the APS, electric LDVs as a segment contribute the majority of emissions avoided from 2022-2030, and the two/three-wheelers segment forms the next largest contributor. In the NZE Scenario, trucks play a key role in delivering the avoided emissions targets for achieving net zero goals. 

The projections in the Stated Policies and Announced Pledges scenarios are based on historical trends through the end of 2022 as well as stated policies and ambitions as of the end of March 2023. The Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario is consistent with the World Energy Outlook 2022 publication. 

Includes buses.

Here, we refer to the Europe regional definition in the IEA’s Global Energy and Climate (GEC) Model, which includes Türkiye and Israel.

As Wales, Scotland and the United Kingdom are listed separately as signatories, each is counted in the European total. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed new GHG emissions standards for light- and medium-duty vehicles in April 2023, which are expected to further promote EV sales. As this was announced after the first quarter of 2023, the proposal is not reflected in the scenario projections.

In 2022, battery manufacturer CATL averaged a capacity utilisation rate of 83.4% for the year.

While the share of total government revenue from fuel taxes may be small, for example it has recently been less than 3% in the United Kingdom, in many cases it represents a large share of the budget allocations for transportation infrastructure.

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Biden’s ambitious climate plan for EVs faces these big hurdles

Many pieces must fall into place for electric vehicles to be the majority of those sold in the u.s. by 2032, as the white house hopes.

The Biden administration’s plan to remake how Americans travel by forcing automakers to rapidly shift to predominantly electric vehicle sales would strike a major blow against global warming — but only if federal officials can successfully execute it.

There is a lot standing in their way.

The initiative is being launched at the same time the nation’s electricity grid — which would fuel all these new EVs — is wheezing , with destabilizing power outages and developers of wind and solar projects often stuck waiting years to connect to transmission lines. It is uncertain how car companies will secure all the minerals needed to build EV batteries, with federal plans to bring onshore supply chains facing major obstacles.

The durability of the Biden blueprint could also depend on Democrats retaining control of the White House in 2024 and defending the vehicle emissions rules against expected court challenges. Not since the Nixon administration allowed California to write its own tailpipe emissions standards — setting in motion a regulatory regime that would push automakers to build increasingly efficient cars — has there been such an aggressive push by Washington to reshape the American auto industry .

And of course there is the charging station conundrum : Can enough of them be built and kept functional to help car buyers overcome range anxiety?

All of these questions have many transportation experts hedging their bets. The regulatory push “could drive a more rapid transition to battery electric vehicles than we currently expect,” Matthias Heck, a vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, said in an email. But he also cautioned that “risks for this carbon transition are high, if not very high, for the industry.”

Unleash the deep-sea robots? A quandary as EV makers hunt for metals.

Biden administration officials wave away such warnings , at a time when other countries are already rapidly electrifying. In China, EVs already account for nearly a third of new vehicle sales. Norway jumped to over 79 percent in 2022, in a country where EVs accounted for less than 3 percent of total vehicle sales a decade earlier.

Can the U.S. electricity grid rapidly evolve to support EVs?

Much of the U.S. focus will now shift to the electricity grid. Whether it can be flexible, resilient and green enough in the coming years remains an open question. Engineering is a challenge, but the bigger hurdle involves addressing financing and regulations if the grid is to evolve into one that can reliably charge tens of millions of electric vehicles.

Before the administration even unveiled its latest plan to push automakers to step up EV production, the Department of Energy had already concluded that transmission systems need to be expanded by 60 percent by 2030 to meet Biden’s broader emissions goals. And they may need to triple in capacity by 2050.

That expansion is not on track. Fights over where utility lines should be located, who should build them and who should pay for them continue to create major bottlenecks.

The average time it takes a developer to add a wind or solar project to their regional power grid has jumped to four years, twice as long as it took in 2017, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Biden administration is promising to ease congestion and shore up the grid through billions of dollars in spending on transmission lines and other improvements authorized in the infrastructure package that Congress passed. But it could be years before the upgrades and expansions are operational.

“It is going to take major work,” said Dan Bowermaster, senior program manager for electric transportation at the Electric Power Research Institute.

California — which last summer passed a rule banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035 — will be an important test case. A week after that rule was passed, extreme heat pushed the state into a power emergency, with officials imploring residents to curtail their electricity use.

The state has since delayed its plans for shutting down a major nuclear power plant, amid concerns that new renewable energy projects were not coming online fast enough to keep the electricity system stable. It now needs to bring renewables onto its grid at an unprecedented pace, with the state’s energy commission projecting that the share of electricity from the grid going to power electric cars during peak hours will jump from 1 percent today to 10 percent by 2035.

“There are great lessons to be learned from California,” said Todd Bowie, a principal at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman. He added that setting targets and standards is vital but “actually implementing them and making them real is another animal.”

There is hope that EVs can ease the transition. The cars have the potential to work as mini power stations, storing electricity in their batteries that can be dispatched back onto the grid or used in the homes of their owners during power crunches.

Biden to remake U.S. auto industry with toughest emissions limits ever

“The EVs themselves can be part of the solution,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment. But even here, there is an asterisk: Vehicles will need to be built with batteries that are capable of exporting the electricity they store.

Will EV owners have the charging stations they need?

The nation’s current network of charging banks is dysfunctional and inadequate. The ones that do exist are often broken. The stations are often a money loser for their owners, and acquiring the real estate is a daunting task. The network that functions best now is available only to drivers of one brand of car, Tesla, at a time when there are already 91 different EV models on the market.

The Biden administration is scrambling to address the problem, aware that EVs will not be widely embraced if drivers have to worry about getting stranded with every long road trip. At Biden’s encouragement, Congress has already approved $7.5 billion for construction of EV charging stations.

In a briefing on Tuesday, White House national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said that money will feed an expansion that is already underway. “The number of charging stations that line our highways has doubled, and the number of electric vehicles that are deployed on our roads has tripled,” he said. White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan added in an email Saturday morning: “As the President says, it is never a good bet to bet against the American people.”

To highlight its focus on building more charging stations, the White House has dispatched top officials to unveilings of new projects and corporate roundtables. Biden’s lead adviser on infrastructure, Mitch Landrieu, visited a Tennessee facility earlier this month where a new type of fast charger will be manufactured.

It is a start. But the United States is lagging. According to S&P Global , China has 1.2 million charging points, Europe has 400,000 — and the United States has only 140,000.

Can the U.S. secure scarce minerals for batteries?

The sourcing of battery materials is another potential stumbling block. Carmakers are scouring the globe to find the cobalt, nickel, manganese and lithium they need to make all these batteries. It is a major disruption to their business model, and one that pushes them into uncharted territory, such as ownership of mining.

But there’s a reason these mining and processing facilities have been built overseas, with China largely in control. It is a messy business, and it requires infusions of capital.

Congress — partly concerned about the national security implications of China’s hegemony over critical minerals — included huge subsidies and restrictions in the Inflation Reduction Act to ensure that batteries would be built with U.S. materials or those from its trading partners. The open question is whether production of those materials can be scaled up quickly enough. In the United States, it typically takes 10 years to open a new mine, in part because of opposition from local communities and environmental groups.

General Motors, in its response to the EPA’s proposal on Wednesday, said the government needs to come through with permitting reform — among other changes — to help speed up investment in the industry and consumer adoption of EVs.

Here’s the biggest hurdle facing America’s EV revolution

Congress has also made tax incentives for car buyers partly dependent on the location of an EV’s supply chains and assembly, limiting their availability at least for now. And other subsidies to push those supply chains to the United States and other friendly nations may add to the cost of purchasing an electric car because of higher labor standards and other factors in those countries.

EPA officials note the new EPA proposals would not go into effect until the model year 2027, giving car companies time to reconfigure those supply chains.

“We’ve got some years to ramp up,” said EPA administrator Michael Regan. “We hope that we can take advantage of that runway.”

Will Biden’s blueprint overcome sure legal challenges?

Critics — especially fossil-fuel advocates — have already sought to frame the EPA proposal as a de facto ban on gasoline and diesel. Lawyers and lobbyists expect they are gearing up for a fight. Other major interests — including the auto industry itself — and Republican states may join them, depending on the final formulation of the rule, which the EPA is expected to complete next year.

Vehicle emissions rules are often subject to protracted legal battles, and this one may be the most controversial ever. Texas and several other fossil-fuel-producing states challenged the Biden administration’s last updates to vehicle emissions rules in 2021. That case is still pending in federal appeals court, nearly two years after the EPA’s initial proposal.

The changes the EPA hopes to drive from this new proposal are so drastic they may face especially tough odds in federal court, said Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer at the Bracewell LLP law firm who oversaw air pollution policy at the EPA under President George W. Bush. The Supreme Court just last year ruled to limit the EPA’s authority on climate change, citing what is called the “major questions” doctrine to say the agency didn’t have authority to impose sweeping change over the electric power industry — or other major economic sectors — without explicit direction from Congress.

“If the courts say that Congress didn’t give the EPA power to remake the power sector, the courts can say the same thing about the automobile sector,” Holmstead said.

Administration officials note that their rule updates are structurally the same as all the versions that have proceeded it. It requires car manufacturers to stay within a limit set on the emissions of the entire fleet of vehicles they sell, but it doesn’t require they sell EVs, or mandate the use of any other specific technology to comply. Administration officials and their allies say that technology-neutral rule should be within the law.

But because EVs have no tailpipe emissions and are starting to become common purchases for consumers, experts assume that a massive increase in EV sales will be the only way to comply. As of January, fully electric cars made up just 7 percent of new vehicle registrations in the United States. Under the most aggressive scenario in the EPA’s proposal, that number would have to rise to 67 percent by model year 2032.

That sweeping change could trigger the “major questions” doctrine for the conservative court, Holmstead said. And then the EPA would likely have to prove the math behind all the targets it says are achievable, not just for increasing consumer sales, but for the mineral production and other supply-chain development needed to build these vehicles, he added.

“If EPA can’t show there’s a plausible way for all of that to happen on that quick a time frame, then a court can rule it’s an arbitrary and capricious rule” and invalidate it, he said.

Biden administration officials say their estimates are sound because they are built on market trends, citing $120 billion in private sector investment going into developing EVs over the past two years. That is a drastic change from the conditions that preceded past auto emissions rules, and gives the agency the justification it needs to be so aggressive, said Chet France, a former senior official at the EPA who had helped develop past regulations, including the first national greenhouse gas standards for vehicles.

“I wish that when I was at the agency — that when I was setting a rule — there was that much investment,” said France, who is now a consultant with Environmental Defense Fund. “This is a case where investments are unprecedented.”

More on climate change

Understanding our climate: Global warming is a real phenomenon , and weather disasters are undeniably linked to it . As temperatures rise, heat waves are more often sweeping the globe — and parts of the world are becoming too hot to survive .

What can be done? The Post is tracking a variety of climate solutions , as well as the Biden administration’s actions on environmental issues . It can feel overwhelming facing the impacts of climate change, but there are ways to cope with climate anxiety .

Inventive solutions: Some people have built off-the-grid homes from trash to stand up to a changing climate. As seas rise, others are exploring how to harness marine energy .

What about your role in climate change? Our climate coach Michael J. Coren is answering questions about environmental choices in our everyday lives. Submit yours here. You can also sign up for our Climate Coach newsletter .

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global warming evs project introduction

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global warming evs project introduction

Goals and Objectives

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  • Recognize the natural and human-driven systems and processes that produce energy and affect the climate
  • Explain scientific concepts in language non-scientists can understand
  • Use numerical tools and publicly available scientific data to demonstrate important concepts about the Earth, its climate, and resources

Learning Objectives

The global-warming story is huge. In this module, we will look at the physics, and the next module covers the history and the impacts.  Don't let it get you down; the basics are not nearly as hard as they might seem at first.

After completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Recall that carbon dioxide has a well-understood and physically unavoidable warming influence on Earth’s climate
  • Recognize that positive feedbacks amplify changes, and negative feedbacks reduce them
  • Recall that multiple independent records from different places using different methods all show that both CO 2 and temperature are rising
  • Explain that patterns of global warming in the past century can only be reproduced by considering both natural and human influences on climate
  • Use a model to show that global climate always finds a steady state, but certain factors may influence how long it takes to get there
  • Demonstrate that greenhouse gases are the most significant factor controlling surface temperature
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A new climate change report offers something unique: hope

Jeff Brady 2010

An International Energy Agency report says countries are setting records building solar power projects like AES' Clover Creek solar project in Mona, Utah in 2022. Rick Bowmer/AP hide caption

An International Energy Agency report says countries are setting records building solar power projects like AES' Clover Creek solar project in Mona, Utah in 2022.

Here's something you don't hear much when it comes to climate change: hope.

Countries are setting records in deploying climate-friendly technologies, such as solar power and electric vehicles, according to a new International Energy Agency report . The agency, which represents countries that make up more than 80% of global energy consumption, projects demand for coal, oil and natural gas will peak before 2030.

While greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, the IEA finds that there's still a path to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. That's what's needed to avoid the the worst effects of climate change, such as catastrophic flooding and deadly heatwaves.

"The pathway to 1.5 [degrees] C has narrowed in the past two years, but clean energy technologies are keeping it open," said Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, in a statement. "The good news is we know what we need to do – and how to do it."

That overall message is more optimistic than the one issued in 2021, when the IEA released its first Net Zero Roadmap .

In addition to optimism, the 2023 version shows that the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner forms of energy will have to speed up even more in the coming decade. For example, the world is on track to spend $1.8 trillion on clean energy this year. To meet the target outlined in the 2015 Paris climate agreement among the world's nations, the IEA finds annual spending would have to more than double to $4.5 trillion by the early 2030s.

As renewable energy costs continue to decline, the IEA says tripling installations of new renewable energy, mostly solar and wind power, will be the biggest driver of emissions reductions. But the agency warns countries will have to speed up permitting and improve their electricity grids for that power to get to where it's needed.

The agency also finds a little room for new fossil fuel developments, such as the controversial Willow project the Biden administration approved in Alaska earlier this year. The roadmap does leave room for some new oil and gas drilling to avoid "damaging price spikes or supply gluts."

The report comes as countries prepare to meet for an annual climate summit in Dubai at the end of November and amid calls to phase out fossil fuels entirely.

"It's an extraordinary moment in history: we now have all the tools needed to free ourselves from planet-heating fossil fuels, but there's still no decision to do it," said Kaisa Kosonen with Greenpeace International in a statement .

The oil and gas industry continues to argue it can be a part of addressing climate change, despite research showing most oil, gas and coal reserves would have to stay in the ground.

The American Petroleum Institute offered a defense of its business in response to the IEA report. "Policymakers should not ignore current market realities—which are clearly signaling the need for more supply of oil and natural gas—in favor of any scenario models with predetermined outcomes," said Dustin Meyer, American Petroleum Institute senior vice president.

If countries fail to achieve climate goals, the IEA report warns carbon removal — essentially vacuuming carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — would be required. The agency calls those technologies "expensive and unproven" at the scale that would be needed to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

"Removing carbon from the atmosphere is very costly. We must do everything possible to stop putting it there in the first place," Birol said.

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COMMENTS

  1. Global warming

    An IPCC special report produced in 2018 noted that human beings and their activities have been responsible for a worldwide average temperature increase between 0.8 and 1.2 °C (1.4 and 2.2 °F) since preindustrial times, and most of the warming over the second half of the 20th century could be attributed to human activities.

  2. Impact of EVs on global warming

    Abstract This research aims to define the relationship between electric vehicles (EVs) and the total CO2 emissions of the world. The research question is "does the transition to EVs actually make an impact on the total CO2 emissions". The dependent variable for this research is the total carbon emissions of 195 countries from 1990 to 2019.

  3. How electric vehicles offered hope as climate challenges grew

    Globally, EV sales surged in the first half of 2021, increasing by 160 percent compared with the previous year. Even in 2020 — when most car sales were down due to the COVID-19 pandemic — EV sales...

  4. Can today's EVs make a dent in climate change?

    Could existing electric vehicles (EVs), despite their limited driving range, bring about a meaningful reduction in the greenhouse-gas emissions that are causing global climate change? Researchers at MIT have just completed the most comprehensive study yet to address this hotly debated question, and have reached a clear conclusion: Yes, they can.

  5. Electric Vehicles

    Electric vehicles (EVs) are a cleaner alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered cars and trucks—both in terms of harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Most cars and trucks use an "internal combustion engine" (ICE), powered by burning oil-based fuels. When burned, those fuels create climate-warming carbon ...

  6. Factcheck: How electric vehicles help to tackle climate change

    Electric vehicles (EVs) are an important part of meeting global goals on climate change. They feature prominently in mitigation pathways that limit warming to well-below 2C or 1.5C, which would be inline with the Paris Agreement 's targets. However, while no greenhouse gas emissions directly come from EVs, they run on electricity that is, in ...

  7. Policies to promote electric vehicle deployment

    ZEV mandate. British Columbia: 10% ZEV sales by 2025, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2040. Québec: 9.5% EV credits in 2020, 22% in 2025. New Energy Vehicle dual credit system: 10-12% EV credits in 2019-2020 and 14-18% in 2021-2023. California: 22% EV credits by 2025. Other states: Varied between ten states.

  8. One of the biggest myths about EVs is busted in new study

    Lifetime emissions for an EV in Europe are between 66 and 69 percent lower compared to that of a gas-guzzling vehicle, the analysis found. In the US, an EV produces between 60 to 68 percent fewer ...

  9. How electric vehicles and other transportation innovations could slow

    The future of EVs All-electric vehicles have grown dramatically since the Tesla Roadster and Nissan Leaf arrived on the market a little over a decade ago, following the popularity of hybrids. In...

  10. Introduction

    Overview Vehicle manufacturers and policy makers are boosting their attention and actions related to electric vehicles (EVs). EV technologies such as full battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric models are attactive options to help reach environmental, societal and health objectives.

  11. Global Warming

    Global warming is the increase of average world temperatures as a result of what is known as the greenhouse effect. Certain gases in the atmosphere act like glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight through to heat the earth's surface but trapping the heat as it radiates back into space.

  12. Supporting the global shift to electric mobility

    E mobility projects in focus Electric 2 & 3 wheelers Mobility based on motorcycles and three wheelers is key to transport systems in Africa, Asia and some parts of Latin America. Very often, these vehicles go daily distances of 100 kilometres and more, transporting passengers and goods and satisfying mobility needs of millions of customers.

  13. How Green Are Electric Vehicles?

    An all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, for instance, can be expected to produce 189 grams of carbon dioxide for every mile driven over its lifetime, on average. By contrast, a new gasoline-fueled Toyota ...

  14. Global Warming: Causes, Effects and Solutions

    Since 1900, the average global surface temperature has risen by 1 • C as a result of human activity, primarily the use of fossil fuels, which has increased atmospheric CO 2 levels by almost 40% ...

  15. "Impact of EVs on global warming" by Deweender Sharvin Sethu, Ho Kai

    This research aims to define the relationship between electric vehicles (EVs) and the total CO2 emissions of the world. The research question is "does the transition to EVs actually make an impact on the total CO2 emissions". The dependent variable for this research is the total carbon emissions of 195 countries from 1990 to 2019.

  16. Electric Cars & Global Warming Emissions

    This video explores the global warming emissions of EVs on a lifecycle basis, from the manufacturing of their batteries to their ultimate disposal or reuse. Share ... the second part of this special Clean Transportation mini-series Jess visits the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project to talk with co-founder and co-director Ms. Margaret ...

  17. Climate crisis: Study shows how Tesla and other EVs could ...

    Abstract: Limiting global warming to well below 2°C requires a dramatic acceleration of decarbonization to reduce net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to zero around mid-century. In complex ...

  18. Prospects for electric vehicle deployment

    Global EV battery demand increased by about 65% in 2022, reaching around 550 GWh, about the same level as EV battery production. The lithium-ion automotive battery manufacturing capacity in 2022 was roughly 1.5 TWh for the year, implying a utilisation rate of around 35% compared to about 43% in 2021.

  19. Biden's ambitious climate plan for EVs faces these big hurdles

    12 min. The Biden administration's plan to remake how Americans travel by forcing automakers to rapidly shift to predominantly electric vehicle sales would strike a major blow against global ...

  20. Evs Project Global Warming PDF

    Evs Project Global Warming PDF - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. Evs-project-global-warming-pdf

  21. Goals and Objectives

    Goals Recognize the natural and human-driven systems and processes that produce energy and affect the climate Explain scientific concepts in language non-scientists can understand Use numerical tools and publicly available scientific data to demonstrate important concepts about the Earth, its climate, and resources Learning Objectives

  22. 12th EVS PROJECT TOPIC-GLOBAL WARMING

    12th EVS PROJECT TOPIC-GLOBAL WARMING - Read online for free. Global warming evs project.

  23. A new climate change report offers something unique: hope

    Meeting climate change goals is still possible with renewable energy and EVs Electric vehicles and ... 80% of global energy consumption, projects demand for coal, oil and natural gas will peak ...