SUVs second-largest contributor to increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010

Research by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that globally, the recent shift towards Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) has offset efficiency improvements in smaller cars and carbon savings from electric vehicles. SUVs were the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010 after the power sector.

Almost one third of the cars on UK roads are SUVs. Despite sales of new cars falling by 2.4% in 2019, UK SUV sales increased by 12%. Although sales of battery electric vehicles were up by 144% and hybrids by 17%, these vehicles made up only 1.6% and 4% of the market share, respectively.

The IEA analysis found that between 2010 and 2018, SUVs doubled their global market share from 17% to 39% and their annual emissions rose to more than 700 megatonnes of CO2, more than the yearly total emissions of the UK and the Netherlands combined.

In terms of carbon dioxide emissions, the fleet average of all new cars sold in 2019 rose for the third year, up +2.7% to 127.9g/km of CO2. From 2021, phased in from the beginning of 2020, the EU fleet-wide average emission target for new cars will be 95g CO2/km. In October 2019, the Government said it had committed “to pursue a future approach that is at least as ambitious as the current arrangements for vehicle emissions regulation.”

The Government’s 2019 election manifesto stated it would consult on the earliest date the UK can phase out the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars. Previously, in The Road to Zero strategy in 2018, it had stated it would end the sale of these vehicles by 2040.

The Opposition has said it will aim to end new sales of combustion engine vehicles by 2030, and by improving public transport, it wants to help people become less reliant on cars, to improve quality of life in towns and cities.

More information

Guardian, SUVs second biggest cause of emissions rise, figures reveal, 25/10/2019

IEA, Growing preference for SUVs challenges emissions reductions in passenger car market, 15/10/2019

Car Magazine, UK 2019 car sales slip to seven-year low: who’s up, who’s down?, 06/01/2020

European Commission, Reducing CO2 emissions from passenger cars

New onshore wind capacity

RenewableUK has warned that the Government’s current approach to onshore wind is falling short on delivering the renewable energy capacity needed to reduce carbon emissions to net zero. This week (13-19 January 2020), it highlighted new statistics showing that in 2019, only 629 megawatts (MW) of new onshore wind capacity were installed in the UK. This is a fall from 651MW the previous year and down from a peak of 2,683MW in 2017.

Of the 23 projects that came into operation last year, only one was started under the Government’s current policy for onshore wind. The other 22 had qualified for support under renewable energy schemes that the Government has now closed to the technology. In England, where the Government has introduced planning restrictions on onshore wind, only two projects received planning approval in 2019. Just one new project was submitted into the planning system.

We are in a climate emergency. Onshore wind offers one of the cheapest ways to generate renewable energy, with costs continuing to fall. More than doubling our capacity to 30 gigawatts by 2030 would provide power for five million homes and generate 60,000 new jobs. To continue to block onshore wind development is therefore completely indefensible.

More information

Guardian, Just one new onshore windfarm started under current UK policies in 2019, 13/01/2020

RenewableUK, Net zero emissions goal at risk as less new onshore wind capacity built for second year in a row, 14/01/2020

UN proposes new targets for global biodiversity crisis

Almost a third of the world’s land and seas should be protected by 2030 in order to combat the global biodiversity crisis, according to proposals by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

On Monday, a draft text was published that set out proposals for urgent national and global action to stabilize biodiversity loss by 2030 and achieve the 2050 vision of living in harmony with nature.  The text is expected to be adopted by governments at the UN Biodiversity Conference in October in Kunming, China. The previous Aichi targets agreed in 2010 were largely missed, including by the UK.

Last year, the UN warned that one million species are threatened with extinction globally. The UK must show international leadership in setting these new targets for biodiversity and nature restoration in Kunming and honouring its obligations under the new targets.

The climate and environment emergency we face is the biggest challenge facing the future of our country and of our planet. I support plans to invest nearly £10 billion over the next ten years to restore nature, adopt natural solutions to climate change, recover our islands’ biodiversity, reducing waste and protecting vulnerable habitats and species both on land and in the seas around us.

In September, the UK Government announced a new £220 million International Biodiversity Fund to stop species and habitat loss including for the world’s most endangered animals. However, I believe this figure is insufficient compared to the £3 billion spent by the UK as an EU Member State on biodiversity through rural and environmental issues like farming, forests, fisheries and environmental restoration.

I call on the Government to put in place a comprehensive plan for rewilding nature, to improve our biodiversity and create more carbon sinks across our country to address this environmental emergency.

More information

The Guardian, UN draft plan sets 2030 target to avert Earth’s sixth mass extinction, 13/01/2020

UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Zero Draft of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework


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