COP 28: Automotive drives progress in carbon reduction 

  • Automotive leads in emission cuts with a surge in EV adoption, signalling promise for a cleaner future.
  • The transportation sector gears up for a timely fossil fuel transition at COP 28, with EV sales tripling since 2020, in sync with 2030 climate goals.
  • Despite momentum, EVs face hurdles, pushing exploration of alternatives like plug-in hybrids and hydrogen.

Accelerating change: navigating the crossroads of automotive emissions reduction at COP 28

Today marks the conclusion of COP 28 in the United Arab Emirates, where the environmental community have met to discuss deals and commitments. While the environmental spotlight was on, a glimmer of hope emerged as the transportation and automotive sector successfully ditched fossil fuels, hitting the accelerator on a much-needed shift with 60 pledges to double efforts in green transport 2030. Yet, beneath the surface, despite a strong momentum in EV adoption, signs of deceleration have been noticed. 

Encouragingly though, the current proportion of EV sales relative to overall vehicle sales has tripled since 2020. With approximately 12% of global emissions stemming from the automotive and transportation sector, the prevalence of EVs positions this composition to play a substantial role in driving towards the 2030 climate goals.

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But amidst this positive trend, there are nuances. In key markets like the EU, the momentum of EV sales is plateauing, with the share remaining at 21% since August. This has prompted questions surrounding the shift of focus from battery EVs towards other types of, in some cases, more accessible or adaptable EVs – such plug-in hybrid or fuel cell EVs, in order to ensure we meet the 2030 goals. 

Plug-in hybrids are a compromise, but present a flexible and perhaps more accessible solution, merging the perks of electric and traditional combustion engines. Their dual power sources offer an electric driving range for short trips, curbing emissions and lessening dependence on fossil fuels. By leveraging public and private charging infrastructure, users benefit from enhanced efficiency and reduced operating costs. For those with range anxiety, the combustion engine remains on hand as a reassuring backup. This adaptability positions plug-in hybrids as a more accessible choice for those embracing sustainable options but not quite ready to make the full transition to an all-electric vehicle.

Fuel cell EVs also step up as a serious alternative, tapping into hydrogen to power up their electric motors. What’s more, with zero tailpipe emissions, this gives a real boost to air quality. And when it comes to refuelling, these vehicles are fast – outpacing traditional electric ones, perfect for those with a need for speed or a long daily grind. Beyond the road, they’re not just cars – they’re potential game-changers in a hydrogen-powered revolution, pushing for a cleaner and sustainable energy shift. While infrastructure isn’t quite fully developed in all markets, the EU is on track to mandate that hydrogen stations be installed in all major cities. 

As COP wraps up and the last targets are inked, the spotlight rightly shines on boosting the share of EVs in the global automotive scene. Yet, if sustaining the growth of EVs becomes challenging, this might prompt the need to consider alternative paths to achieve our overarching objectives of reducing emissions and addressing the 2-degree target.

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