“CO2 Emission Reduction”
By the year 2000, cars and vans accounted for 7 per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This proportion is rising as economic growth brings the benefits of widespread car use to the world’s emerging and developing economies.
Under a business-as-usual scenario, global road transport emissions are projected to double by 2050. The global challenge is to support increases in road transport use, in a sustainable, environmentally-responsible way. Just as technology has helped achieve radical improvements in vehicle performance and safety since 1908, the industry is now addressing the greatest challenge yet: delivering environmental solutions.
The environmental challenge for road transport on the Economics of Climate Change sets out the overall environmental challenge. As a result of the growing concentrations of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, climate change threatens severe consequences including flooding, drought, population displacement, and
Ecosystem destruction across the globe. The benefits of strong, early action far outweigh the costs. To achieve greenhouse gas stabilisation at 550ppm3, total emissions reductions (total across all sectors) of at least 25 per cent by 2050 will be needed, relative to 2000 levels. The 2007 G8 summit in Heiligendamm agreed on an ambition of a 50 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2050. Stern asserts that the developed world, including the UK, needs to lead the way by achieving total emissions reductions of 60-80 per cent by 2050. A challenge on this scale requires all sectors, including road transport, to make urgent and substantial progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. This is why, the Chancellor of the Exchequer set up the King Review to “examine the vehicle and fuel technologies that, over the next 25 years, could help to decarbonise road transport, particularly cars.
In the long-term, almost complete decarbonisation of road transport is a possibility. If substantial progress can be made in solving electric vehicle technology challenges and, critically, the power-sector can be decarbonised and expanded to supply a large proportion of road transport demand, around a 90 per cent reduction per kilometre emissions would be achievable across the fleet. If the rate of road transport growth
Projected continues, and road use worldwide approximately doubles by 2050, this could deliver an 80 per cent reduction in total road transport CO2 emissions, relative to 2000 levels.
As well as focusing now on the technologies that can achieve the long-term objective of decarbonising road transport, it is important to start reducing emissions in the short term, through development and implementation of improvements to established automotive technologies. As Stern highlights, emissions avoided now are more valuable than those saved later. This Review’s analysis indicates that, by 2030, emissions per kilometre could be around 50 per cent below 2000 levels. This would be partly offset by the projected increase in distance travelled, implying an overall reduction in emissions from car use of approximately 30 per cent by 2030. This is a major challenge: urgent and sizeable.
However, the review does not set targets for the road transport sector. Instead it focuses on what can be achieved, through strong action now, towards the long-term decarbonisation of cars. Even in the short term, we can achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions through use of technologies that are already available, and by making smart choices, as individuals, about what, when and how to drive.