By 2050, the way we move people and goods around our towns, cities and planet will be very different.
We will require a transport system that continues to drive a dynamic, vibrant and truly global economy, that continues to support thriving local and urban communities, but one that is fully decarbonized.
A zero-carbon transport system comes with significant benefits - as well as addressing climate change, it will help create new jobs and new commercial opportunities, as well as dramatically quieter, cleaner and healthier towns and cities.
This is not only achievable, it is possible sooner than we might imagine. To get there, we need an end-date for the internal combustion engine (ICE), and a wholesale switch to electric vehicles. The good news is this transition has already begun - the rate of change we are witnessing today is exponential and already passing the tipping point.
We are living through a radical transformation of our transport system: An emerging new global fleet of passenger vehicles that are 100% electric; manufacturers committed to a date when no more ICEs will come off production lines; businesses of all types deciding en-masse to electrify their fleets and consumers committing to making their next car an electric vehicle (EV).
It’s vital this transition accelerates. The transport sector currently accounts for 23% of global energy-related CO2 emissions - over half of which is from light vehicles - and is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change, according to the IEA. The health impacts of ICE vehicles is widespread. Nine out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants, including that from transport, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows.
The good news is we already have the solutions required to deliver the transition to zero-carbon fleets at speed and scale. Electrification of transport is providing a vital role in helping to bend the curve of global emissions, as well as reducing local air and noise pollution.
These are the signals of rapid change we are witnessing - right the way across the key areas of Supply; Demand; Policy; Technology; and Culture - which we look at in more detail below.
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World’s top automakers commit to EVs
The world’s top 10 automakers - with a collective market cap of more than $500 billion and sales of over 60 million cars every year - have committed to electrify all or part of their fleets. This means that they are gearing up for the zero-carbon transport future with hundreds of new EV models already in their planning cycles.
Exponential rate of change
At the end of 2018, there were 5.1 million EVs on the roads. Under the International Energy Agency’s EV30@30 Scenario, that is predicted to rise to 250 million by 2030. A wholesale change that is thousands of times faster than the time it took to adopt the car in the first place in the early 1900s. And many times faster than the adoption of the smartphone.
China and India help lead the way
Two key markets are helping to drive the transition - China and India. In China, the world’s biggest car market, there are already 487 different electric car makers operating. In India, Mahindra are introducing three new EVs this year alone, and Tata Motors have announced the pending arrival of new affordable micro SUVs and hatchbacks based on new modular EV platforms.
Daimler commits to carbon neutrality by close of 2039
Daimler - one of the world’s leading producers of premium cars and commercial vehicles - has committed to make its entire passenger car fleet carbon neutral by the close of 2039. Quite a statement from the maker of the first ICE vehicle. As Daimler CEO Ola Källenius says, this is: “a fundamental transformation of our company within less than three product cycles. That’s not much time when you consider that fossil fuels have dominated our business for 130 years.”
Volvo will not launch another ICE-only model
Volvo have committed to phase out pure gasoline cars THIS YEAR - 2019. Incredible to imagine just a few years ago, Volvo will not launch another ICE-only model. Ever again. Period
VW commits to 70 fully electric models by 2028
Volkswagen has set long-term ambitions to make the entire company CO2-neutral by 2050, including its factories, offices and supply-chain. This is on top of launching seventy fully electric models by 2028.
Tesla lays down a challenge
And of course there’s Tesla - the poster-child for EVs and a genuine pioneer - has now broken into the top three US automakers by market cap, right up there alongside GM and Ford. It is outselling luxury German models from BMW, Audi and Mercedes in the US market.
50+ companies committed to accelerating the EV transition
Businesses account for about 50% of all light vehicles purchased. Through The Climate Group’s EV100 initiative, over 50 of the world’s major multinational companies have committed to accelerating the transition to EVs and charging infrastructure. They include Deutsche Post DHL Group, UPS, IKEA Group, CLP Group and AstraZeneca.
Demand is set to grow, fast
Global sales of plug-in electric cars rose by 72% year-on-year from 2017-18. That is exponential in anyone’s book. Over 2 million electric vehicles were sold in 2018, up from just a few thousand in 2010, and there is no sign of slowing down. Bloomberg New Energy Finance expects annual passenger EV sales to rise to 10 million in 2025, 28 million in 2030 and 56 million by 2040. And EVs are now cost competitive in several European countries.
DHL delivers a bold vision
Electrification is now starting to make commercial sense for companies - like Deutsche Post DHL Group - with fleets of tens of thousands of electric vans and delivery bikes. DHL has committed to reduce logistics-related emissions to zero by the year 2050. As part of this effort, the company aims to operate 70% of its own first and last mile services with clean pick-up and delivery solutions, such as electric bicycles and vans by 2025.
LeasePlan is transitioning its fleet of 1.8 million
They’re not alone in making these large-scale transition decisions: LeasePlan – with 1.8 million vehicles on the road – is working toward net-zero emissions by 2030 and aiming to transition its employee fleet to 100% EVs by 2021.
UPS develops its ‘rolling laboratory’
It’s a similar story over at UPS. A company that is already operating one of the industry’s largest private alternative fuel and advanced technology fleets - a ‘rolling laboratory’ of more than 10,000 low-carbon vehicles, including EVs and hybrids.
IKEA aims for 100% of home deliveries by EV
IKEA Group has a massive home delivery fleet and is rolling out net-zero emission deliveries across five prioritized inner cities (Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Shanghai) by 2020. The company’s goal is for 100% of home deliveries by EV or other zero-emission solutions by 2025.
Utilities embrace EVs
Some of the most visible fleets on our roads are utilities - the gas, electric, telecoms and water companies - that run large fleets of vans to keep the essential services we depend on running smoothly. A growing number of them are committing to accelerate the transition to EVs and developing charging infrastructure. The UK’s Centrica and SSE, EDF in France, E.ON in Germany, China Light and Power in China, and PG&E in the US are all starting a wholesale transition to zero-carbon fleets.
Battery costs are tumbling
The best measure of progress when it comes to battery technology for EVs is the cost in dollars of storing a kilowatt hour (kWh). In just eight years - from 2010 to 2018, this fell by 85% - from $1,160, to $176. If this trajectory continues, we will be seeing it fall to well below $100 and potentially $50 within the next few years.
Alternative batteries are being developed
Several start-ups with batteries they believe will improve on current lithium-ion technology are due to introduce their cells to the commercial market imminently. Sila Nanotechnologies, QuantumScape and others are raising millions of dollars from venture capitalists and corporations such as Volkswagen to commercialize their breakthrough technologies.
Charging networks starting to grow
Huge amounts of ambition and investment have been put into national charging networks around the world. To give an idea of the scale, charging infrastructure developers ChargePoint and EVBox have committed to installing over 3.5 million new chargers globally by 2025.
Technology is reshaping mobility
Numerous trends, ranging from autonomy and energy decentralization to the Internet of Things, are likely to come together to create drastic changes in mobility systems over the next 10 to 15 years.
Shared mobility is here to stay
Car-sharing and ride-hailing services are already at work in hundreds of cities around the world, enabled by smartphones. Increased connectivity is opening the door to multiple shared-mobility options and could also help to smooth traffic flows.
The end of the car as we know it?
The way people, especially young people, are getting from A to B is radically changing. From ride sharing, to digital cab hailing, EVs on demand and electric scooters, the need and incentive to own a car in urban areas is being reduced. In fact many commentators predict the end of car ownership as we know it.
EVs go mainstream
In July 2019, Top Gear - the biggest car show brand on the planet - finally devoted an entire episode to EVs. For a dyed-in-the-wool petrol-head entertainment format to finally take EVs seriously is a big cultural signal. Their conclusion? They are fast, they are fun, they are affordable, we will all end up with one soon, but they need some work making them sexier...
Formula E pulls into the lead
From entertainment to sport - Formula E - the EV format of F1 is now fully established, and no longer a back-water of motorsport. Indeed F1 is “unlikely to be using petrol by 2025”.
Pollution is a life and death issue
Citizens in Wuhan, in northeastern China, have been taking to the streets to protest about the level of urban pollution. They are not alone. City mayors from major cities like LA, Cairo and Beijing have started introducing popular emission-reduction measures. The impact of pollution on citizen health is well-known, but now those in charge know if they don't do something to curb it, it will cost them something more than the health of their citizens - their votes.
It’s costing billions in healthcare
The impact of pollution on health - and it’s financial cost to governments - is immense. According to a report by Deloitte and InnoEnergy, smog reduction could save European citizens over $210 billion (€183 billion) by 2025. $210 billion that could be better spent elsewhere.
Countries are committing to phase out ICE cars
Around twenty countries have committed to completely lphasing out gas and diesel powered light passenger vehicles in the coming decades. France and the UK have said that all new cars sold must be electric by 2040, while some countries have committed to achieve that earlier, including the Netherlands and Israel by 2030.
Ultra-low emission zone
Central London introduced its ultra-low emission zone in April 2019. Under its rules, users of older cars — diesels with a Euro 5 engine or earlier, or petrol drivers with a Euro 3 engine or older — must pay a charge of £12.50 to drive in the eight square mile area.
C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration
Dozens of cities have joined the C40 Fossil-Fuel-Free Streets Declaration, committing to purchase only zero-emission buses from 2025 and ensuring a major area of their city is zero emissions by 2030.
Cities and states join the #ZEVChallenge
Within just one year, over 60 states, cities and businesses have committed to the targets of the #ZEVChallenge, created by The Climate Group, C40 Cities and the Under2 Coalition. The state of California could soon triple the subsidies for electric cars. This means buyers in the Golden State could get as much as $7,500 per EV. The state is also considering a ban on ICE vehicles.
Boosting industrial competitiveness
Governments can see the economic benefits of policy leadership on EVs - as those countries seizing the opportunity of the EV transition are securing market share. For example, China almost doubled the production and sales of alternative fuel vehicles in the first seven months of 2018, compared to the same period last year. And much of this can be credited to the judicious use of policy.
EV investment set to soar
The investment to create the required level of growth is massive: just a year ago, car manufacturers said they would be investing $90 billion into EVs. This year, they have increased that estimate to $300 billion - more than three times their original estimate - and with nearly half of that directed at China.
Energy storage powers up
The global energy-storage market will surge to a cumulative 942 gigawatts by 2040, according to a new forecast from BNEF, and that growth will necessitate $1.2 trillion in investment. This level of storage capacity is equivalent to the entire fleet of coal-fired power stations in China.
GM invests in Detroit battery lab
GM announced it will invest $28 million to enhance its battery development and testing lab in Detroit as part of its shift to EVs, though this is relatively small compared to the company’s R&D investment total of over $7 billion.
Challenges to overcome
The transition to a fully net-zero carbon transport system will not be easy; there are some major challenges, and significant problems that have yet to be tackled.
Concerns about natural resources
The London Metal Exchange will only allow responsibly sourced metals to be traded from 2022. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance recommends that all companies in the minerals supply chain conduct risk-based due diligence to respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their sourcing decisions. The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has made a commitment to eliminate child labour in the mining sector by 2025.
Rising to the challenge of existing ICE cars
Companies are springing up offering conversions for traditional ICE cars to EVs, often for a fraction of the cost of a new EV. This is helping to repurpose old batteries and keep cars from the scrapheap.
Overcoming the carbon footprint of manufacturing
Leading automakers like Daimler and VW are committed to reducing the entire life cycle emissions to zero in the coming decades, including the factories that produce the cars and the parts used to make them. Battery electric cars also make up for higher manufacturing emissions within eighteen months of driving because they generate half the emissions of the average comparable gasoline car, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
Concerns about the power used by EVs can be overcome
The transition to EVs should go hand in hand with the transition to zero-carbon power sources to ensure the electricity driving the vehicles is not polluting. But even with current power supplies, EVs can still outperform in terms of emissions. For over 70 percent of Americans, driving an EV results in fewer emissions than even a 50 MPG gasoline vehicle, according to UCS.
Ensuring a just, fair and inclusive transition
As companies and governments accelerate the transition to zero-carbon economies and build resilience to climate impacts, their actions could impact people, workers and communities unequally, both positively and negatively. Forward-looking businesses and policy makers are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the transition is achieved in a way that is just, fair and inclusive.
Ensuring no negative impacts
For the transport sector, this means ensuring workers employed in the production of vehicles, their supply chains and those in distribution and transport services, are not negatively affected by the transition to zero-carbon transport.
Taking the necessary steps
Forward-looking businesses and policy makers are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the transition is achieved in a way that is just, fair and inclusive, so the transition can be successful without leaving anyone behind.
Change is happening faster than many expect.
And that is true about the transition to a zero-carbon transport future. What we are witnessing is a revolution happening right now, with signals of change all around us. The scale of this transition is often surprising if you don’t see the whole picture.
The benefits will be immense - not only will the transition help address climate change, it will also create jobs and sustainable growth, enhance the competitiveness of industry and protect the health of citizens. In addition, it will create greater resilience in the economy, energy security and dramatically improve people's quality of life - through better air quality, quieter cities and cleaner energy.
This is the kind of future we want. For ourselves and for future generations.
While it is inspiring to see these clear signals of change and the momentum achieved, it’s not happening fast enough. Government and business can be more ambitious and speed up the delivery of climate action. To get to the net zero-carbon transport future, the adoption of key solutions needs to accelerate to ensure progress happens faster across the entire system.
We are creating a better future - and it’s our goal to make it happen faster.
What can you do to accelerate that change?
Join other leading businesses, step up and commit to bold climate action.
- Commit to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050.
- Set an ambitious science-based emission reduction target that’s aligned with what science says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
- If your company uses, owns or manages a fleet of commercial vehicles, commit to accelerating the transition to EVs and making electric transport the new normal by 2030 with EV100, led by The Climate Group.
Drive change at the pace and scale required to achieve net-zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.
- Commit to ending sales of light duty internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030.
- Enact enabling policies to accelerate the transition to zero-carbon transport.