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EVs unlikely to counteract rising demand for oil by 2040, says BP

Global oil demand and CO2 emissions will be higher in 2040 than in 2016, even with a total worldwide ban on all new combustion engine vehicles, according to the 2018 BP Energy Outlook report.

Electric vehicle charging

Switching to EVs won’t be enough to counteract rising oil demand in 2040, according to the report.

The research looked at several scenarios for future energy use, recognising that long-term changes were based on a combination of policy, technology and societal preferences. But the data released assumes the pace of change follows the same pattern as it has so far, with the company stressing this is about exploring the implications of different routes rather than predicting the future.

According to this scenario, global demand for oil and energy will continue to rise in the years leading up to 2040, largely due to the rapid growth of emerging economies. The knock-on effect is a 10% rise in carbon emissions during the same period, which is lower than the last 25 years but not enough to meet climate change targets set out at COP21 in Paris.

Transport plays a big role in the rising demand for oil; accounting for 50% of that increase. However, BP said improved fuel economy for next-generation vehicles was also a big contributor to that rising demand plateauing towards the end of the Outlook period. Overall, transport (including rail, air and sea) demand will more than double, while energy use will increase by 25%.

By 2040, BP predicts only 15% of the world’s car parc – some 300m vehicles – will be electric. But driverless and car-sharing technology means these vehicles will account for 30% of the miles driven by that point.

The report suggests banning combustion engine vehicles completely by 2040 will cut oil consumption by 10m barrels per day, which is still not enough to curb the rising demand from emerging economies.

A scenario where carbon emissions fall by almost 50% by 2040 is, by comparison, largely due to almost completely decarbonising the power sector over that time.

“The suggestion that rapid growth in electric cars will cause oil demand to collapse just isn’t supported by the basic numbers – even with really rapid growth,” said group chief economist, Spencer Dale. “Even in the scenario where we see an ICE ban and very high efficiency standards, oil demand is still higher in 2040 than it is today.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.