If it were for the IEA (International Energy Agency), all new cars would have to be electric from 2035 on. This is just one of the more than 400 milestones the agency set for achieving net-zero by 2050, one of the most important goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
This objective has to do with the excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is what allows Earth to present life. The issue with it is emitting more of these gases than it would need to keep the temperatures at the current level. That has happened due to fossil fuel burning, which brought back to the atmosphere carbon that was trapped in the soil for millions of years.
Getting all new cars, in all countries, to become electric by 2035 is beyond ambitious. In the best-case scenario, we’ll get there with electric vehicles becoming cheaper than ICE vehicles sooner than expected, battery supply facing no bottlenecks whatsoever, and all current car companies making a swift transition to electric mobility.
In the worst-case scenario in which that is actually possible, that milestone could backfire: cost parity would take longer than expected, demand for raw materials would make prices higher, and most people willing to get a car might only be able to afford an old combustion-engined vehicle, which would pollute way more. That is something Carlos Tavares already warned about.
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As we already mentioned, this is just one of the 400 objectives we would have to accomplish. The idea is to change the energy matrix in the entire world to electricity, investing in renewable sources, and cutting fossil fuels as soon as possible.
If you think the change in the automotive industry is radical, one of the milestones IEA sets is for no investments in new fossil fuel supply projects or new unabated coal power plants right now, starting in 2021. By 2040, energy production would already be neutral in greenhouse gases.
The report is long, but it deserves an attentive read from anyone concerned with climate change. Even if it is to debate some of the milestones, at least the IEA set clear objectives that can lead us to a cleaner world.