In industrialized nations like the United States vehicles with internal combustion engines account for a fifth of all CO2 emissions, emitting 19 pounds of heat-trapping gasses for every gallon of gasoline. With millions upon millions of gasoline-guzzling vehicles on roads, the impact of cars, trucks and busses on the planet’s climate is horrendous.
The solution lies in electric vehicles (EVs), more and more of which are hitting roads around the planet, especially within prosperous western nations. Yet despite their growing popularity electric vehicles still have a long way to go. Currently there are a little over 3 million electric cars in use worldwide, a mere fraction of the number of cars with internal combustion engines.
Yet things are changing. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), by 2030 as many as 125 million electric vehicles will be plying the planet’s roads thanks in no small part to policies by municipalities and governments aimed at making electric vehicles more enticing to car owners. “The uptake of electric vehicles is still largely driven by the policy environment,” the IEA notes in a newly released report. “The 10 leading countries in electric vehicle adoption all have a range of policies in place to promote the uptake of electric cars.”
Among the fastest adapters are China and the European Union, where generous subsidies are helping fuel the spread of EVs. In China, the IEA projects that electric vehicles will account for over a quarter of the domestic car market by 2030. Last year the sale of new electric car sales in the country, which is notorious for air pollution, grew by a whopping 72% with 580,000 units sold in total. In Europe, meanwhile, stricter emissions standards and high fuel taxes are set to make EVs capture nearly a fourth of the continent’s market in vehicles by 2030.
That’s not to say, however, that vehicles with internal combustion engines will disappear any time soon. By 2040 there will be some 2 billion vehicles on the planet’s roads and the vast majority of them will still run on fuel.