Increasing SUV And Truck Sales Cancel Out Emissions Saved From Electric Vehicles

While one would hope that most people would do their part to fight climate change by no longer purchasing big trucks and SUVs that suck up gasoline and expel tons of carbon emissions every year, it turns out that sales are only increasing, thus canceling out any emissions reductions achieved by electric cars.

There is already so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that trees alone can’t handle the load, and our vehicles are a major reason for that problem.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Our personal vehicles are a major cause of global warming. Collectively, cars and trucks account for nearly one-fifth of all US emissions, emitting around 24 pounds of carbon dioxide and other global-warming gases for every gallon of gas. About five pounds comes from the extraction, production, and delivery of the fuel, while the great bulk of heat-trapping emissions—more than 19 pounds per gallon—comes right out of a car’s tailpipe.

So, switching to electric vehicles, which don’t produce carbon emissions, is a necessary step if we want to truly fight climate change and the rising global temperatures that threaten the planet and our own survival.

Many automakers, especially Volkswagen, are ramping up electric car production.

The International Energy Agency reports:

Plans from the top 20 car manufacturers suggest a tenfold increase in annual electric car sales, to 20 million vehicles a year by 2030, from 2 million in 2018. Starting from a low base, less than 0.5% of the total car stock, this growth in electric vehicles means that nearly 7% of the car fleet will be electric by 2030.

However, despite this increase in electric car production, SUV and truck sales are increasing.

On average, SUVs consume about a quarter more energy than medium-size cars. As a result, global fuel economy worsened caused in part by the rising SUV demand since the beginning of the decade, even though efficiency improvements in smaller cars saved over 2 million barrels a day, and electric cars displaced less than 100,000 barrels a day.

And that’s a bad thing because SUVs and trucks produce a lot of carbon emissions and will only increase the demand for more oil, a fossil fuel responsible for causing the global climate crisis, which oil companies have known about for decades.

As a result, emissions from trucks and SUVs will end up canceling out the emissions saved from electric cars, and that means we are going nowhere in the fight against climate change on this particular front.

In fact, SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly. If consumers’ appetite for SUVs continues to grow at a similar pace seen in the last decade, SUVs would add nearly 2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars.

If we are serious about fighting climate change and preventing certain disaster, our transportation system must undergo immediate change by eliminating the sale of SUVs and trucks or making these vehicles all-electric as well. There is no excuse for continuing to produce vehicles that make climate change worse. We have the technology to do so much better. It’s time to do it.

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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