Climate Concerns Come Poor Second to Personal Comfort

Consumers care more about their personal comfort than the climate, as SUV demand undermines the work being done to lower vehicle emissions, a report has found.

The report, part of the World Energy Outlook 2019 from the International Energy Agency (IEA), claims that there are now over 200 million SUVs around the world, up from just 35 million in 2010, with around 40% of new car sales being SUVs, doubling the 20% figure from nine years ago.

These cars, being less fuel efficient and consuming on average a quarter more energy than medium-sized cars, are undermining the work many automakers are doing to reduce emissions, including producing more and more supposedly environmentally-friendly electric vehicles. Emissions from SUVs have risen dramatically since 2010, growing by 0.55 gigatonnes of CO2, up to 0.7 gigatonnes by 2018. That makes the SUV segment the second largest contributor to the global increase of pollution, behind power but ahead of aviation and heavy industry.

Meanwhile, the IEA estimates that 20 million electric vehicles will be sold a year by 2030, with up to 7% of the vehicle fleet being electric. That’s up from 2 million a year in 2018, just 0.5% of the global car stock.

However, electric vehicles still aren’t all that great for the environment. Extracting the lithium needed for the batteries and the battery manufacturing process releases a lot of carbon dioxide, and depending on the energy source used to charge the vehicle, they can end up being just as harmful for the environment as regular ICE-powered cars.

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