- Electric vehicles is the only industry on track to meet climate goals by 2030, a new report found.
- EVs accounted for 10% of new car sales globally in 2022, and needs to hit at least 75% by 2030.
- The EV market is a rare bright spot. No other sector is on pace to cut emissions fast enough.
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A quick Google search for electric vehicles suggests a bump in the road.
Some automakers are reporting slower-than-expected demand, and General Motors and Ford are pushing back investments in production.
But a report published Tuesday found that the EV sector is on track to meet 2030 targets aimed at averting the worst impacts of the climate crisis. There’s no indication that any other industry — including power, buildings, agriculture, and finance — will curb greenhouse-gas emissions enough to meet 2030 targets.
“This is the fourth time we’re writing this report, and the first time ever we’ve had an indicator on track,” Judit Hecke, the coauthor of the State of Climate Action 2023 and an analyst at NewClimate Institute, told Business Insider.
The report, a joint effort by a coalition of groups known as Systems Change Lab, tracks 42 indicators of climate progress, including renewable energy, deforestation, and sustainable diets.
Last year EVs accounted for 10% of new car sales, primarily in China, the European Union, and the US. That percentage needs to be at least 75% by the end of the decade, according to the report.
Data suggests that EV sales are booming globally this year. Kelley Blue Book found US customers bought nearly 50% more EVs as of the end of September compared to the same time last year. A similar trend is playing out in China and the EU.
The EV success story is due to several factors, Hecke said. Batteries are lighter, more affordable, and have longer ranges. Some countries, including the US, Norway, and China, also dole out subsidies such as tax breaks and parking discounts to EV buyers. Canada, Chile, and the EU are banning the sale of gas-powered cars in 2035, as are a handful of US states.
Buying an EV is also one of the easier climate solutions to adopt.
“This doesn’t require transformational change,” Hecke said. “People like driving and can continue to do so, but feel a little bit better about themselves. It’s easier to swallow than someone telling you that you can’t eat meat.”
People still need to drive less and take more buses and trains to reduce emissions, Hecke added. That requires big investments in public transit. The report found that, collectively, countries would need to build the equivalent of three New York City transit systems a year until 2030 to meet climate goals.
That said, the strength of the EV market is a rare bright spot in a week marked by warnings about how far off the world is from tackling the climate crisis.
The UN on Tuesday said that emissions must be slashed by 43% this decade compared to 2019 levels, but national climate plans will only amount to a 2% drop. The Biden administration chronicled how extreme weather in the US is becoming more frequent and costly, with disasters that cause at least $1 billion in damage now occurring every three weeks on average, compared to once every four months during the 1980s.
Hecke noted that even though the State of Climate Action offers a similar warning, there are signs that broader change is happening. Renewable energy is heading in the right direction, electric heat pumps are quickly replacing fossil fuel-powered home appliances in Europe, and there are many low-carbon steel projects underway.