While imagining a world where stopping at a gas station is no longer such a crucial part of being a driver may be difficult, two reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA) show that the fuel efficiency of consumer vehicles could be increased by 50 percent by the year 2040 if the necessary technologies and policies to achieve that goal are implemented in a timely manner.
The IEA reports outline the fact that the transport sector currently accounts for one fifth of global final energy consumption; with steep growth expected in that sector due to increasing population and trade, humanity risks demands on the world’s oil supply that simply cannot be met. However, with guided investment in research and development and government policies shaped with the aim of urging the private sector towards more sustainable technologies, world oil demand could be successfully stabilized, even with population growth and the increasing number of cars on the roads taken into account.
“Tackling road transport energy use is vital to enhancing energy security and reducing carbon dioxide emissions globally,” says IEA Deputy Executive Director Richard Jones. “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.”
The good news comes with a catch, however: the reports suggest that governments will need to act very quickly if they hope to aid in the goal of reducing world oil demand for road vehicles by the target date. Specifically, the reports recommend that world leaders implement policies that set strict goals and requirements for auto manufacturers in an effort to increase fuel economy in every new vehicle that they put on the road.
“Strong policies are needed to ensure that the full potential of these technologies is achieved over the next 10 to 20 years,” says the report in closing. “Current technologies for conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles can reduce fuel consumption by half over the next 20 years.”