Electric cars could help the planet significantly by 2050

Mass adoption of electric cars could halve transport emissions by 2050

The transportation industry plays a huge role in climate change - it's responsible for about 23% of global energy-related emissions. But a new study shows that with mass adoption of electric cars, emissions could be slashed in half by 2050, even when taking the motorisation of China and India into account.

Previously, it had been thought that the transport sector would be one of the most tricky to decarbonise, given the rapid growth in car ownership in Asia.

However the study, published in the journal Science, shows that's not the case and a large emissions drop is achievable with a large-scale shift to electric cars and more public transport in cities.

High Voltage

That's good news for companies like Tesla, Nissan and BMW, all of which have electric cars on the market. It's thought that Apple is developing its own, too. Tesla's affordable Model III, due in 2017, is already expected to have a massive impact on electric car ownership.

Electric technology has a head start over competing technologies like biofuels or hydrogen as battery costs are dropping dramatically.

The price per kilowatt-hour of electricity from batteries more than halved between 2007 and 2014, and are expected to drop by at least another third by 2030.

"Large-scale electric mobility could be crucial to halving CO2 emissions of the transport sector by 2050," said Felix Creutzig, the lead author of the report. "Efficiency gains will be very difficult to achieve with the conventional automobile fleet from 2025 on. A fuel shift will be the only remaining option to advance decarbonization."

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.