U.S. needs staggering amount of electric cars to hit 2050 climate goal

Kieran Bicknell
Tesla Model S Sunset

With the increasing likelihood of electricity becoming the de-facto fuel of choice for cars in the future, a recent study has discovered that the U.S will need an incredible level of electrification to meet the Paris Climate Accord requirements.

With increasing levels of global warming in the last 20 years, countries around the world have all been agreeing to do their part to combat climate change.

According to a recent study by engineers at The University of Toronto, however, the U.S has a long way to go. In order to meet the Paris Climate Accord goals of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celcius, drastic changes need to be implemented.

The study states that a staggering 90 percent of ‘light duty’ cars and vehicles on the road would have to be electric by 2050. To facilitate this, all new cars sold by 2035 would have to be fully electric, in line with the recent announcement by the state of California.

EV Charging Port
Electric cars look set to dominate personal transportation in the coming decades.

Electric vehicles are not sufficient on their own

According to Scientific American, if every state was to adopt the same policy as California, a total of 350 million electric vehicles would be on the road by 2050. Doing so would dramatically slash the carbon output of the United States.

Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a straightforward process. If EVs were to be the only type of new car available, their total power usage would exceed 40% of the current national grid capacity. To support the influx of EVs would require significant investment in the electricity grid and supply chain.

Alexandre Milovanoff, lead author of the study, said: “We need to deploy electric vehicles, but we also need to be realistic that they’re probably not sufficient on their own.”

New York Subway Image
Increased usage of public transport networks would help reduce the need to rely on electric cars.

The other way of reducing emissions is to reduce the public’s reliance on personal transport. This too would require significant investment, but focused on public transportation networks rather than solely on the electricity infrastructure.

Should the current level of personal transportation be frozen, it would require only 50% of cars to be electric by 2050 to achieve the same level of emissions reduction. This is not an easy process, however, as the U.S has a number of isolated settlements.

The United States is officially intending on withdrawing from the Paris Accord in November 2020. This means there is no guarantee that any changes will be implemented.

Regardless, there is no denying that big changes need to be put in place to combat climate change, though it is unclear what form these will take.