SUV sales rocketed by 35m in 2021

This led to a 120m tonne increase in carbon emissions reveals a new IEA report

Pathway to COP26 report

Global SUV sales shot up by more than 35 million in 2021, delivering a large blow to efforts to curb carbon emissions.

That’s according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), claiming that the increase in sales led to a 120 million tonne increase in carbon emissions.

Although electric vehicle (EV) sales reached record levels in countries including Germany, the UK, France and China, the report reveals that SUV sales were very resilient to the impacts of the pandemic.

SUVs accounted for more than 45% of global car sales in 2021, which was a new record in both volume and market share.

Although 34 countries have set deadlines for the banning of brand-new petrol and diesel cars, the demand is not diminishing.

The US, India and large parts of Europe have been the key contributors to the rise in SUV sales, whilst China witnessed the largest drop-off, as the country places heavy emphasis on the sale of EVs.

The study reveals that although the number of electric SUVs in production is on the rise – with an estimated 55% of electric cars on the market last year being SUVs – more than 98% of the world’s SUVs still rely on petrol or diesel.

These vehicles now rank as one of the highest contributors to energy-related carbon emissions during the last decade, having grown from 50 million to 320 million.

The IEA revealed that if SUVs were an individual country, they would rank sixth in the world for absolute emissions produced, with more than 900 million tonnes of carbon emitted in 2021.

Although the number of electric SUVs on the roads is increasing, the report also warned of the problems larger vehicles can pose: “The average size of vehicles in the car fleet is something that policy makers need to keep a close eye on.

“Apart from consuming more energy, larger cars drive up demand for critical minerals because battery-powered electric SUVs are equipped with a much larger battery (70KWh) than the average battery electric car (50KWh).

“Some governments have already started introducing relevant measures, such as France and Germany, which have put a tax on large and high-emissions cars like SUVs.

“Additional policies targeting SUVs will help to deliver a sustainable and low carbon road passenger sector.”

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