The acceleration of electric car adoption is not enough to stave off climate consequences (study) - Energy

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  • The world’s move to adopt electric cars is not enough to reduce the effects of the climate crisis
  • Europe must add 10,000 chargers per week to meet 2030 carbon neutrality goals
  • Total cost of electric vehicle ownership expected to fall in Europe and America
  • Job losses could affect 13 million jobs in the internal combustion engine vehicle sector

Auto giants are scrambling to capture the electric car market and attract more customers, but is that enough to reduce the climate crisis and greenhouse gas emissions?

A recent report from consultancy Wood Mackenzie answered that the current rate of zero-emissions electric vehicle adoption will not be palpable on climate change, with charging stations being one of the main obstacles.

The report, titled “Transportation’s Transition to Carbon Neutrality: A Look at Opportunities and Risks,” warns that time is running out to achieve carbon-neutral targets by 2030.

move slowly

The transportation sector is among the most important sectors emitting greenhouse gases, and cars and vans account for three quarters of the transportation sector’s emissions, along with planes, trains and ships.

electric cars
Battery-powered electric cars – Photo courtesy of Motor1

So Wood Mackenzie believes that car and truck makers must accelerate their plans to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by mid-century, reports Inside EV.

“How we will get there is uncertain, frankly, we are moving very slowly, and we are not on track to do so,” said report co-author Eric Hannon.

According to a Wood Mackenzie report, electric cars represent 8% of new car registrations in Europe.

In the United States, battery electric vehicles, hybrids, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles exceeded 10% of total new vehicle sales during the last quarter of 2021.

This demonstrates the rapid growth of electric vehicles over the past 5 years, but humanity still has a long way to go until all new passenger cars are powered by batteries only.

Hannon explained that the main reason behind the slow adoption of electric vehicles is the momentum related to charging infrastructure.

It is estimated that Europe must add 10,000 chargers per week for electric vehicles to help meet the 2030 climate goals.

Hannon noted that the impact of electric cars on climate change will not be enough if carbon emissions do not peak and begin to decline by 2025, and prevent global temperatures from rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

electric cars

To better understand the risks and opportunities in the transportation sector, Wood Mackenzie analyzed the achievements in the transportation sector under the Financial System Greening Network scenario.

In this scenario, internal combustion engine vehicles are expected to disappear, and sales of battery electric vehicles and fuel cell electric vehicles are expected to increase, reaching nearly 100% of new vehicle sales by 2050, compared to 5% today.

electric cars
Factory for the production of electric cars – photo from Wired UK

Fuel cells are less common than the battery in passenger cars, due in part to the high cost of hydrogen production and the difficulty of transportation.

However, many manufacturers have produced fuel cell cars and are testing the technology on trucks, buses, boats, and other vehicles.

In addition, there are other decarbonization measures aimed at achieving carbon neutrality in the transport sector; Among them is changing consumer behavior through reliance on public transportation, and alternative forms of transportation, such as car sharing.

As a result, companies across the transportation system, including OEMs, suppliers, manufacturers, and operators of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, will face transformation risks.

The cost of electric cars vs. normal

Nevertheless, there will be opportunities to introduce new products and services, given capital expenditures on low-emission vehicles.

The initial cost of battery electric vehicles exceeds the cost of internal combustion engine vehicles by 30-90%.

Under the carbon-neutral 2050 scenario, Wood Mackenzie estimates that the total cost of electric passenger vehicle ownership will be lower in Europe by 2025, and after 2030 in the United States.

The report indicated that upfront costs will remain high, but it expects the gap to narrow as battery prices fall over time, which make up a large proportion of the price of an electric vehicle.

Medium electric trucks, which travel 200 to 300 kilometers per day, are expected to be close to price parity with GFVs by 2025.

Long-range heavy trucks will reach price parity by 2030 in Europe, and later in other regions.

electric cars
Different types of electric cars – photo from the EDF website

Risks facing the sector

The industry’s shift from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles could create risks for communities and workers in the auto parts production sector, which employs nearly 34 million workers across value chains.

Under the carbon-neutral 2050 scenario, Wood Mackenzie estimates that 13 million jobs in the maintenance and operation of internal combustion vehicles will be lost by 2050, compared to 9 million jobs that will be created by the manufacture and maintenance of electric vehicles, and this may partially offset the issue of layoffs.

Altogether, the industry could face a net loss of 14 million jobs by 2050.

Beyond that, an earlier Wood Mackenzie analysis calls for some optimism, particularly that switching to low-emissions vehicles could create opportunities for companies across value chains.

These opportunities include manufacturing electric vehicle batteries and fuel cells, constructing and operating charging infrastructure, and creating digital solutions for integrating infrastructure with the electricity grid.

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