SUVs Dire Impact On Carbon Emissions
Speaker 1: 00:00 You might think that you, an SUV stands for ubiquitous it's utility, of course, as in sports utility vehicle, but SUV is, are everywhere after exploding in popularity, in the U S they've spread to Europe, and now China with dire impact on our environment as part of coverage from the KPBS climate change desk, reporter Oliver Millman joins me to discuss his eye-popping story in the guardian newspaper about how SUV is have taken over vehicle markets. Welcome to midday edition. Well, a you're right that the surging popularity of SUVs is quote producing a vast new source of planet cooking emissions. Start with findings last year by researchers at the international energy agency. Speaker 2: 00:42 That's right. So the, uh, IEA was studied to look at, um, what was the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions since the turn of the century. And, and they were kind of, uh, amazed to find that, um, in the last decade kind of 2010 to 2018, the second largest source was SUV. It's more than trucks, more than airplanes, more than heavy industry, um, only behind the power sector. So SPVs have turned out to be this enormous pool of, um, planet warming gases, and, and they're growing, unlike other sectors, which are, uh, leveling off or even declining. Speaker 1: 01:24 Now, as you observe in your story and the guardian issue, SUVs are hardly sleek aerodynamic machines, how much more pollution do they generate compared with more miserly gas powered cars? Speaker 2: 01:37 So, so the analysis we commissioned found that in the USS UVS emits 14% more carbon dioxide than a smaller passenger cars on average, uh, which is more than in Europe, but less than China where they're actually, um, yeah, there's an even bigger gap. And that adds up over time if you, if you have an SUV for 15 years or so, um, all the extra pollution, um, with all the SUV sold in a single year in the U S is about, uh, on a par with the entire annual emissions of Norway. So it's like adding Norway to, um, uh, to the world's emissions over a 15 year period. And that's quite significant. Yeah. Speaker 1: 02:15 And explain just how popular SUV is, have become in the past decade. I mean, it's remarkable how the numbers of sword, Speaker 2: 02:22 It really is. They've kind of come from pretty much nowhere to now be kind of 40% of all global sales in the U S this year. It's going to be over 50% and that's going to grow to about 54% by 2025. So they are now becoming a kind of dominant mode of car model in, in the U S and increasingly the world. Now the big comic is, are, um, increasing the SUV makers. That's what they make their money from. That's the kind of innovation where the innovation and the choices coming into the market. Um, the S U S is certainly becoming an SUV nation and the world is becoming an SUV dominated world. Speaker 1: 03:00 And I wanted to talk about the selling of issue views. You write extensively about how remarkably successful marketing and advertising of SUV is, has been explain that for us. How have they built, uh, the image of the SUV to appeal to drivers, especially Americans, Speaker 2: 03:14 Right? So the SUV kind of emerged out of, out of the U S in the 1980s, and the car industry realized there was a market for what they would call a sport utility vehicle, which is this kind of amalgamation of a truck and mini van that kind of traditional American family car. And they, they managed to, um, lobby law makers to make sure that they were, uh, subject to less stringent fuel efficiency standards. So they're more attractive to build and then sell. And then they went about essentially trying to sell them to the American public on mass. And they they've been very successful with that. Think about mass marketing campaigns for these vehicles. I mean, you get lots of, kind of adverts of CVS in, in the mountains, kind of selling that kind of aspiration, but it's also increasingly you see them going around towns and cities. You see them as they're kind of almost that kind of smaller compact car that, that would get you to work or get you to meet a friend for a cup of coffee. They they've kind of been sold in a, in a kind of very broad, wide that's, um, is meant to appeal to the greatest number of people. And that's, it's proved very successful. Speaker 1: 04:20 Now, this popularity is only expected to grow California's governor last week signed an executive order that the state would phase out gas powered vehicles by 2035. Is there any hope that electric SUV will replace gas guzzler soon enough to make a difference? Speaker 2: 04:34 That's a really great question. I mean, I think over time suddenly they, they will replace them. I mean, if you look at what the big car makers are doing, they're adding new, um, electric SUV models. Ford had done that with the Mustang. Um, GM has done that with a Cadillac recently and Volkswagen as well have, uh, added a new electric SUV. And these are very kind of sleek, uh, looking vehicles, very different from what we traditionally thought. The SUV is this kind of boxy, uh, off road vehicle. They're now kind of much more sleek and modernized and I'll get the, the comic is hoped that that will appeal to more people, especially those thinking more now about the climate environments. Um, but there's a long, long lag time. There's a long lead time here. Um, California will stop selling gasoline and diesel powered cars by 2035. And if you think about the fact that people hang on to their cars for 12 to 15 years say, we're looking at least until 2050 until we start getting any kind of turnaround in, um, in California. And then there's the rest of the country. It's gonna take a long, long time to phase out, um, diesel and gasoline power cars. And unfortunately the timelines when it comes to avoiding dangerous climate changer, a lot shorter than that, Speaker 1: 05:47 We're certainly running out of time. I've been speaking with reporter Oliver, Millman of the guardian newspaper. Oliver. Thanks very much. Thanks so much.