You may have noticed more electric cars and charging stations on the road recently, but that doesn’t mean that gas-guzzling Sport Utility Vehicles, or SUVs, have disappeared.
Far from it. In fact, while people bought more electric vehicles in 2018, they purchased even more SUVs, making them the top-selling automobile in the U.S., and potentially cancelling out the positive environmental impact of electric vehicles.
That’s according to the International Energy Agency, in its annual energy report, released November 12, 2019. The IEA is an organization run by a consortium of 30 countries, devoted to developing clean and sustainable energy.
This year’s report predicts that global energy consumption will soar by 2040 under current climate policies, which could also lead to increased carbon emissions and global warming. The agency found growing use of renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, and hydropower, but it also found the use of nonrenewable resources that create greenhouse gas emissions are rising at a rate that may outweigh any positive impact from renewable energy.
Top Takeaways from the Climate Report
- Demand for energy will increase by more than 1% every year until 2040, according to the IEA.
- Renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, and hydropower are expected to make up 42% of energy generation by 2030, overtaking coal as the biggest source of energy, according to the New York Times, which viewed the IEA’s entire 800-page report.
- Solar power is expected to become the biggest source of power by 2040, according to IEA.
- Africa has the potential to produce 40% of the world’s solar energy.
- Electric cars, which operate on batteries that can be recharged at charging stations, are increasingly affordable and popular. But sales of SUVs, which operate on gas and are the second-biggest contributor to global carbon emissions continue to increase. Forty-two percent of cars purchased in the U.S. in 2018 were SUVs, compared to eighteen percent in 2000.
SUVs vs. electric cars
Most U.S. car companies are developing electric cars, to compete with Tesla, the biggest player in the electric car industry. In October 2019, Ford announced plans to start producing electric cars, as well as a national network of charging stations. Ford also announced plans to develop an electric version of its iconic Mustang. Similarly, General Motors said it will soon release dozens of new electric car models by 2023, to add to its Chevrolet Bolt. Fiat Chrysler also announced plans in 2019 to develop electric Jeeps.
Still, consumers seem to prefer driving SUVs. While sales of electric cars increased by 81% in 2018, there were still only 1 million electric cars on the road. Nearly half of all car sales in the U.S. in 2018 were reportedly for SUVs. Last year, there were 200 million SUVs on the road, compared to 35 million in 2010. SUVs are also the second-largest contributor to global carbon emissions, after the energy and power sector, according to CNBC.
The International Energy Agency says that under current conditions, energy demand will continue to outpace the development of renewable resources.
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