In a recent report published by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), it is emphasized that a rapid shift towards 100% zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) is not only necessary but also feasible to combat climate change and limit global warming to well below 2°C. The report, which builds upon its 2022 predecessor, sheds light on the critical role ZEVs play in reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the transportation sector.
Key findings from the report highlight the urgency of adopting ZEVs as the norm for new cars, vans, buses, and trucks. According to the analysis, if major markets can achieve 100% ZEV sales for new light-duty vehicles (LDVs) by 2035 and heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) by 2040, with other countries following suit within 5 to 10 years, it becomes possible to put the global transportation sector on a trajectory consistent with limiting global warming to below 2°C.
The ICCT’s updated study, which takes into account developments up to March 2023, expands its regional focus beyond the Zero Emission Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC) markets and China, encompassing ASEAN, Latin American countries, Australia, New Zealand, South Asian countries, the Middle East, and Africa. It also considers international commitments like the Accelerating to Zero Coalition’s ZEV Declaration and the Global Memorandum of Understanding on Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles (Global MOU on ZE MHDVs).
The report demonstrates that recently adopted policies and market developments have already contributed to avoiding approximately 17 gigatonnes (Gt) of CO2 emissions from 2023 to 2050. However, it highlights that if governments follow through on their national and subnational policy proposals and electric vehicle (EV) targets, an additional 25 Gt CO2 could be avoided through 2050.
Of particular significance is the estimated mitigation potential of international commitments, which could account for an additional 11 Gt CO2 reduction compared to the baseline scenario. This underlines the importance of global cooperation in the pursuit of emissions reduction.
Figure ES-1 in the report depicts projected global well-to-wheel CO2 emissions under different policy scenarios, revealing that without additional policies, emissions are set to increase. However, if governments implement proposed policies and EV targets, emissions could peak by 2030 and remain stable through 2050.
The report calls attention to the fact that while progress has been made, there is still a gap between government ambitions and the pathway needed to limit warming to 2°C or below. Although the gap has reduced compared to the 2022 study, further actions beyond transitioning to ZEVs are necessary to achieve these goals. The report suggests the importance of adopting policies that encompass avoid-and-shift strategies for passenger and freight travel, improving conventional vehicle fuel efficiency, accelerating the removal of older vehicles from fleets, and adjusting policies to promote ZEV adoption.
In conclusion, the ICCT’s report underscores the critical role ZEVs play in mitigating climate change. It emphasizes that swift and comprehensive action on a global scale is not only possible but also essential to secure a sustainable future for the planet. It is a clarion call to governments, industries, and individuals alike to accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles and implement a broader range of strategies to meet ambitious climate targets.
Source: Vision 2050: update on the global zero-emission vehicle transition in 2023 | The ICCT