IEA: Fossil fuel transport here to stay but vehicle efficiency can be doubled

By John Parnell

Road vehicle fuel efficiency could be doubled by 2050 if the right policies and technologies are put in place, according to two new reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA).

It says opportunities for cuts in fuel use could boost energy security by cutting demand for oil. Transport represents 20% of global energy consumption.

Better policy implementation and improvements in technology could double the fuel efficiency of land transport, according to the IEA. (Source:Flickr/joiseyshowaa)

“There is massive potential for fuel efficiency improvements to reduce demand for transport fuel, and the two reports show how the world could stabilise demand for oil even if the number of road vehicles – passenger cars, two-wheelers and freight trucks – doubled by 2050,” said Richard Jones, IEA Deputy Executive Director.

“Conventional combustion engine vehicles are set to be around for a long time and without the right policy mixes, like the ones described in these publications, the demand for energy from road vehicles will be unsustainable,” said Jones.

The two reports focusing on policy and technology respectively, suggest that many of the actions required are already possible.

Straightforward policy ideas such as highly visible fuel economy data for car buyers and taxation options offer one route.

On the technology side, the rollout of existing engine advances alone could make petrol vehicles 15% more efficient by 2020. Further improvements in this and other sectors will provide more cuts in emissions.

The IEA’s chief economist Fatih Birol recently said that the world was on target for a 6°C of warming and that major “investment changes” would be required to achieve the 2°C of warming limit that scientists recommend to limit dangerous climate change.

The EU issued a statement yesterday calling for more research to cut its dependence on fossil fuels for transport. The bloc’s combined oil import bill in 2010 was €210bn.

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