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Fuel economy: a vital building block for tackling climate change

10 May 2016
Sheila Watson, FIA Foundation

Improving vehicle fuel economy is simple and cost effective. By introducing policies to improve fuel economy, such as emissions standards, fiscal incentives and labelling, governments can significantly reduce the amount of fuel used by vehicles in their country, saving money and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. With vehicle numbers expected to more than double globally in the coming decades, it’s a vital building block for tackling climate change in the transport sector. Many countries have already introduced fuel economy policies, but further action is needed to achieve the commitments agreed at COP21 in Paris.

The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) is a network of six partner organisations (the FIA Foundation, UNEP, ICCT, IEA, UC Davis and ITF). GFEI works with governments to support them in understanding their vehicle fleet, the policy options for improving fuel economy, and help them implement the approach that is right for them. GFEI undertakes work to raise awareness of the potential of fuel economy, produces detailed analysis of fuel economy trends and opportunities, and build countries’ capacity to develop policy.

GFEI’s work is focused around a series of targets to significantly improve vehicle fuel economy and cut carbon dioxide emissions globally. Achieving these targets would result in annual emission reductions of around 0.5 Gt of carbon dioxide per year by 2025 and 1.5 Gt per year by 2050. Between now and 2050 almost 33 Gt of carbon dioxide could be saved. It would secure almost one third of the carbon dioxide reductions necessary to switch individual motorised passenger transport from a 6 degree (6DS) to a 2 degree (2DS) emission trajectory.

GFEI’s targets are a 50% reduction in the average fuel consumption (Lge/100km) of all light duty vehicles in use in 2050, compared to a 2005 baseline. To achieve this, all new sold cars and vans must reach a similar target by 2030. GFEI’s State of the World Report 2016 assesses progress against these targets. It estimates that while the global average fuel economy is improving, more needs to be done to meet the GFEI target. Fuel economy in OECD countries is improving at a much higher rate than in non-OECD countries.

To accelerate progress, at COP21 in Paris, GFEI announced that nearly 40 new countries have made new commitments to introduce fuel economy policies, taking the number that GFEI supports to 65. We have a pipeline of countries who are currently developing fuel economy policies, and continuing to work with countries who have developed policies to make them even more ambitious. At the same time we are undertaking new analysis to understand these trends in more detail. The Global Fuel Economy Initiative will be presenting the latest findings of this research at the ITF Annual Summit in Leigzig: Fuel efficiency in 2016 and beyond: 19 May, 13:30 - 15:00 Hall 4, Level +1 

 

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