This abstract is based on Nic Lutsey’s article, “Global climate change mitigation potential from a transition to electric vehicles”. Achieving the climate change stabilization goals will require a significant shift from petroleum fuel combustion to low-carbon energy-powered electric vehicles (EVs).

This article examines the power of electric vehicles contributing to the climate goals of major countries. The potential emission reduction in 2030 is 125 million metric tonnes of CO2, most of which comes from major electric vehicle markets in China, Europe, and the United States.

In the year 2014, the percentage of new cars that had plug-in electric vehicles was around 0.5% to 2% in most major vehicle markets. Still, there are particular markets showing substantial greater penetration.

The majority of electric vehicle sales are in 10 markets, primarily located in the United States, China, Japan, and several European nations. Given the short-term supply bottleneck, the share of electric vehicle sales could increase from at least 10% to 15% of the main market by 2025. This will lead to a massive deployment of electric vehicles and require improvements in the electric vehicle supply chain, a far greater auto manufacturing scale, lower cost next-generation electric vehicle models, and sustained government regulation and support. Government policies are strong driver of early growth in the electric vehicle market.

China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom, especially the United States, dominated the world’s electric vehicle sales with more than 90% of the 300,000 vehicles sold in 2014. By 2050, electric vehicle technology will enable fleets around the world to produce about 40% less CO2 emissions than high-efficiency conventional combustion fleets (and 70% less CO2 than commercial fleets).

The major climatic benefits of electric vehicles were initially seen in European countries and in selected regions of the United States. In the long run, the potential climatic benefits of electric vehicles are greatest in China and other emerging vehicle markets. Studies show that achieving long-term climate protection goals will require the rapid global adoption of electric vehicles in the coming decades.