Private automobiles are the biggest source of transport-related GHG emissions. Until cities become less car-centric and more multi-modal in their residents’ transport choices, cars need to be cleaner and greener. Over their lifetime, electric vehicles produce far less global warming pollution than their gasoline counterparts – and they’re getting cleaner.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, “EVs generate half the emissions of a conventional car over the course of its life.”
With declining battery costs and tougher fuel economy and pollution standards, automakers are stepping up their game in all-electric models. Ford Motor Company announced in 2018 that it would more than double spending on electrified vehicles, spending USD 11 billion to bring 40 electrified vehicle models to market by 2022.
This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion-engine-powered car.
Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Cars
Volvo Cars broke news in 2017 that starting in 2019, all of the new models it produces will be electric or hybrid. “This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion-engine-powered car,” President and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said. Volvo was the first traditional automaker to set a date to phase out cars powered only by internal combustion engines. It plans to have sold a total of 1 million electrified cars by 2025, 50 percent of its total sales.
One approach is to rethink public transport: to create high-capacity systems that use a combination of metro, light rail and bus rapid transit. Electric-powered buses and compressed natural gas (CNG) hybrid buses consume 30 percent less fuel with more floor space to accommodate more people. Volvo Buses and Siemens have been partnering on delivering electrified bus systems including charging stations in cities worldwide, including Copenhagen, Hamburg and Montreal. New York’s mass transit system began a three-year pilot programme in 2018 for 10 all-electric buses to reduce emissions. Another 100 CNG buses will replace diesel buses. Stockholm’s city transport authority has set a target for 100 percent fossil-free buses by 2025.
Biofuels offer the fastest CO2 emissions reductions, and electrification is the most cost-effective.
Scania President and CEO Henrik Henriksson
Scania, a leading manufacturer of trucks, buses and coaches, is committed to working towards a fossil-free commercial transport system by 2050. At its Sustainable Transport Forum in May 2018, Scania President and CEO Henrik Henriksson said, “We can achieve more than 20 percent reduction of CO2 emissions by working even smarter in the current transport systems, for example through improved routing and better load management. On top of that, we see several fuel and powertrain pathways to a fossil-free future. Biofuels offer the fastest CO2 emissions reductions, and electrification is the most cost-effective.”
China is also moving swiftly to more sustainable transport, in large part because of its severe air pollution problems. China’s investment in electric vehicles is amongst the most ambitious in the world. In Shenzhen, a city of 12 million just north of Hong Kong, the entire bus fleet – 16,359 buses – went fully electric in 2018, according to CleanTechnica, a clean-tech focused website. Next, the city intends to make all of its more than 17,000 taxis electric.
Light rail systems are also helping to reduce traffic congestion and pollution, especially during peak hours. The rail industry, like other transport sectors, has been moving away from fossil fuels towards new forms of power, including hydrogen fuel cells and batteries.