Decarbonizing road transport by 2050: Accelerating the global transition to zero-emission vehicles
Cars, vans, buses, and trucks account for 21% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Under currently adopted policies, fleetwide CO2 emissions are projected to continue rising through 2050. Transitioning the global vehicle fleet to zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) technologies is crucial to decarbonizing road transport and meeting climate goals. ZEVs—specifically battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs)—are the only technologies that can achieve deep decarbonization of road transport on a lifecycle emissions basis at sufficient scale.
There has been significant progress toward the ZEV transition over the past two years, both in terms of market growth and development of policies necessary to support the transition. But that progress has been uneven. Much of it has occurred in countries represented in the ZEV Transition Council (ZEVTC), less in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs). This briefing summarizes the current state of the ZEV market and policies; quantifies the CO2 benefits of recent policy developments by ZEVTC governments; analyzes opportunities and barriers in EMDEs; assesses the additional mitigation potential and need under an accelerated global ZEV transition; and determines how ZEVTC governments can contribute to a global transition.
The briefing concludes with several specific recommendations for how the ZEVTC and EMDEs can contribute to a truly global transition, which take into account ideas shared in a series of working-level roundtables with EMDE representatives.
- Adopt and implement the five major policies identified in earlier ZEVTC briefings to work toward 100% ZEV sales for LDVs by 2035 and HDVs by 2040. Additionally, work to reduce the gap with a 1.5°C scenario by accelerating ZEV transitions for specific fleets and looking to other types of policy measures to reduce vehicle travel. One important consequence of large-scale ZEV penetration in leading markets will be to bring down the costs of ZEV technology and increase ZEV model availability and manufacturing capacity.
- Support the creation of ZEV dedicated financing facilities via existing and new programs and initiatives to provide effective financial assistance to EMDEs and act to shift investments in ZEVs abroad. There is a need to closely work with multilateral organizations to ensure that relevant funds are spent in a cost-effective approach and that the efforts are not duplicated.
- Establish a working group on the global ZEV transition as an enduring forum to engage with non-ZEVTC countries, especially EMDEs, and form regional collaborations to reduce disparities in the ZEV transition. The working group could engage with the EMDEs to address the key challenges for ZEV transition and contribute to the key priority regional efforts: (a) formulation and implementation of appropriate measures to accelerate the ZEV transition for EMDEs; (b) establishment of technical standards for safety and quality assurance of new and used ZEVs, batteries, and infrastructure; (c) formation of regional collaborations in EMDEs to regulate imports of used ICEVs and ensure uniformity of region- wide development in charging infrastructure and technical standards; (d) building capability to localize the ZEV supply chain within respective regions and countries; and (e) sharing the technological know-how and building capacity needed for the ZEV transition.