It takes a village to decarbonize car travel
Electric cars get lots of attention but an analysis provides sobering numbers that show why EVs are not, as the authors say, a "silver bullet" for wringing emissions out of passenger travel.
How it works: The paper models a long-term CO2 "budget" for U.S. light-duty vehicles that represents that sector's contribution to an emissions pathway consistent with holding temperature rise to 2°C above preindustrial levels.
Threat level: Current policies are nowhere close to putting passenger vehicle emissions on track to meet that budget, it concludes.
- Using EVs alone to right the ship would be daunting, to say the least. Sales are growing, but right now they're about a percent of the total vehicles on U.S. roads.
- Closing the sector's CO2 "mitigation gap" with EVs alone would require 90% of the U.S. fleet to be electric by 2050, they find.
- The authors note that this exceeds even optimistic projections and would mean more than 350 million EVs on the roads in 2050.
The bottom line: The paper concludes that a "wide range" of policies is needed to slash vehicle emissions, including electrification but also very stringent efficiency standards, better mass transit and more.
Go deeper: Ninety Percent of U.S. Cars Must Be Electric by 2050 to Meet Climate Goals (E&E News)