Climate goals could get stuck as SUV sales surge

SUVs contribute nearly a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) sales registered an uptick in 2022, but it has also upped concerns that achieving global climate goals would be hard if this trend continues.

The environmental concerns are mainly centred around big-sized electronic vehicles, according to a report quoting experts. While fuel-guzzling sport utility vehicles consume more oil, electric SUVs would need larger batteries, which experts say is a dangerous trend, pointing to the surge in demand for lithium-ion batteries.

SUV sales saw a 3% jump in 2022

SUV sales registered a three per cent rise in 2022, despite car sales dipping by 0.5 per cent.  In another alarming trend, SUV sales accounted for nearly half – or 46 per cent to be precise – of automobile sales worldwide.

SUVs contributed nearly a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, a report by the International Energy Agency pointed out.  A comparative figure is the climate pollution caused by the United Kingdom in 2021, which was just half of the above-mentioned figure.  SUV oil consumption also soared by an astonishing five lakh barrels a day.

As per a goal adopted by the Paris Convention on climate change, nations should cut climate pollution by half by the end of this decade. Net zero emissions are a target by the year 2050.

Transportation accounts for a major chunk of climate pollution and is accountable for a quarter of greenhouse emissions. Nations are targeting that 60 per cent of all vehicle sales should be EVs by 2030, in a bid to achieve the Paris convention climate goals.

But though electric vehicle sales surged 60 per cent in 2022, an alarming trend is that nearly 55 per cent of the 400-odd electric car models are SUVs.

Automobile majors are pouring resources to grab raw materials for the production of electric vehicles, which require almost six times the minerals needed for ordinary cars. The global supply chain of raw materials needed to make lithium-ion batteries are concentrated in a few regions, which makes its supply chain vulnerable.

Pollution control goals could hit a wall

Another factor is that EVs themselves cause a different sort of pollution, mainly related to air quality, as per experts. But sport utility electric vehicles could pose an enormous threat to throw pollution control goals into disarray across the world, as these are much bulkier than cars run on fuel.

So the best option to check the alarming rate of transportation-related pollution is to cut the size of the vehicles manufactured by automobile companies. It remains to be seen how this target can be achieved.

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