IEA Chief: EVs Are Not The End Of The Oil Era

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By Tsvetana Paraskova

Electric vehicles (EVs) today are not the end of global oil demand growth, nor are they the key solution to reducing carbon emissions, Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), said during the ‘Strategic Outlook on Energy’ panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

According to Birol, analysts need to put things into perspective and consider that five million EVs globally is nothing compared to 1 billion internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

“This year we expect global oil demand to increase by 1.3 million barrels per day. The effect of 5 million cars is 50,000 barrels per day. 50,000 versus 1.3 million.”

“Cars are not the driver of oil demand growth. Full stop,” Birol said.

The drivers of oil demand growth are trucks, the petrochemical industry, and planes, with Asia just starting to fly, the IEA’s head said.

“To say that the electric car is the end of oil is definitely misleading,” Birol noted.

“Electric cars today are not the end of the oil era,” he reiterated.

EVs are not the ultimate solution to the climate change problem because most of the electricity used to charge the vehicles comes from fossil fuels, Birol added.

“Where does the electricity come from, to say that electric cars are a solution to our climate change problem? It is not,” he said.

In its latest Global EV Outlook, the IEA said last year that the outlook for EVs is bright, but requires ambitious targets. According to the agency, the number of electric cars on the road could reach 125 million by 2030 under the IEA’s New Policies Scenario, which includes national pledges made for the Paris Agreement.

Some environmentalists have been accusing the IEA of skewing its findings and policies toward favoring the oil and gas industry. According to a 2018 report from Oil Change International, the IEA “is holding governments back” from achieving the Paris Agreement goals, as the IEA’s New Policies Scenario roadmap “steers those decisions towards levels of fossil fuel use that would cause severe climate change.”

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