IOE: Small increase in SUV emissions

IOE: Small increase in SUV emissions

Global energy-related carbon emissions have been declining in recent years except for one area of ​​the automotive sector that has grown. Emissions from SUVs, which are usually larger and heavier vehicles than traditional sedans, are estimated to have risen slightly by 0.5%, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which analyzes data from last decade (2011-2020). This is due to the huge increase in sales volume known worldwide.

SUV oil consumption reached 5.5 million barrels per day in 2020. Increased liquid fuel consumption has almost tripled in the last decade due to their growing worldwide popularity, which has surpassed other categories of cars. Today, SUV emissions are comparable to those of the shipping industry.

In the last decade, SUVs have added 300 million tons of CO2. In all other sectors of the economy, such as electricity generation, building heating, manufacturing, heavy industry and other forms of transport, carbon emissions have remained stable or even declining. However, the increase in emissions from SUVs is almost equivalent to the increase in emissions from road freight activities over the last decade.

The use of liquid fuels by traditional cars (excluding SUVs) is estimated to have decreased by over 1.8 million barrels per day or more than 10% in 2020. This is due to the limitations associated with Covid-19, the increase in technology of cars that now consume less fuel, but also in turning the world to the market of hybrid and electric cars. However, the fuel economy savings from the increased share of electric vehicles in the total car market in 2020 was around 40,000 barrels per day.

It is pointed out that only the Covid-19 pandemic, without taking into account the problems created by the lack of semiconductors and the significant delay in deliveries, led consumers to postpone the purchase of new vehicles. It is estimated that 9 million people delayed the replacement of their old car. This results in the prolonged use of these older vehicles, which on the one hand pollute the environment more and on the other consume more liquid fuels. This delay alone increased oil demand by 50,000 barrels per day in 2020.

However, electric propulsion continues unabated and is increasing every month, steadily reducing emissions. Thus, they gradually come to take their place in SUVs, which become more “clean” and reduce their overall energy footprint.

SUVs consume on average more than 20% more energy than a mid-size car for the same distance. Of course, these numbers vary by continent. In the European Union, an average SUV consumes about 10% more energy than a mid-size car.

In order for car emissions to keep pace with the Paris Agreement’s climate targets, the share of electric SUVs in total SUV sales must increase to over 35% by 2030. A rapid increase in electric SUVs and an increase in the share of small cars that will move easily in the cities will change the scenery. At the same time, the hybrid functions of a car and the improved engines that consume less fuel are expected to help this goal.

The continued popularity of larger and less efficient cars could delay this transition. Thus, in several countries they are considering or have introduced (Germany) a tax in order to limit the rise of SUVs. This tax has to do with the weight of the car, where a heavier vehicle pays more than a lighter one.


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