White paper

Vision 2050: Update on the global zero-emission vehicle transition in 2023

This paper updates a 2022 ICCT study on the vehicle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions impact of an accelerated global transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). It updates historical data through 2021 and 2022; accounts for policy developments in Zero Emission Vehicles Transition Council (ZEVTC) markets from August 2021 (the cut-off for the 2022 study) to March 2023; adds announced electric vehicle (EV) targets for emerging markets and developing economies in Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa; and adds the impacts of global agreements. This study compares the emissions trajectories of the updated scenarios to the 2022 study and to Paris Agreement-compatible emissions pathways for vehicles. These pathways include a 2°C pathway, a 1.7°C pathway, and a 1.5°C pathway, assuming vehicles use a proportional (21%) share of the total remaining carbon budget. The policy scenarios from the 2022 study were re-modeled with updated data to allow for a consistent comparison.

The 2022 study identified a total cumulative mitigation potential of 100 Gt CO2 between the Baseline and Ambitious scenario in the 2020–2050 time frame, of which announced targets were projected to avoid about 20 Gt CO2; this resulted in an “ambition gap” of 80 Gt CO2. This updated modeling shows that recently adopted policies will avoid about 17 Gt CO2 and following through on proposals and announced EV targets would avoid an additional 25 Gt CO2. Combined, recently adopted policies and announced proposals and EV targets have shrunk the ambition gap to 53 Gt CO2. However, even if a ZEV transition were achieved in line with our Ambitious scenario, a further 62 Gt CO2 would still need to be avoided by 2050 to align with the best chances of limiting warming to 1.7°C. For 1.5°C, an additional 123 Gt CO2 would need to be avoided compared to our Ambitious scenario.

There is additional mitigation potential in a variety of other measures, including avoid-and-shift policies for passenger and freight travel, improving conventional vehicle fuel efficiency beyond current policy targets, accelerating the removal of older vehicles from the fleet, and adjusting used vehicle import policies to accelerate ZEV uptake. The ICCT is partnering with the International Energy Agency, the International Transport Forum, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and the United Nations Environment Programme to research additional mitigation strategies that will build on this study.

Zero-emission vehicles
Vision 2050