Vehicle vanity a climate wrecker: SUVs driving emissions growth

Vehicle vanity a climate wrecker: SUVs driving emissions growth

Fashion is one of our world’s foremost soft powers.

When augmented by peer pressure and materialism as a display of an individual’s value and values, then it is far more powerful than we might care to admit, especially if it leads to negative outcomes. The relentless growth in demand for SUVs is such an instance.

Though the global car market has stalled, the SUV segment has not. A record 35m SUVs were bought last year. It would be surprising if five million were bought by people who need a powerful 4x4, but fashion demands.

The other 30m are on the school run or in supermarket car parks.

There are, unsurprisingly, consequences. The International Energy Agency has reported that accelerating demand for SUVs was the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions from 2010 to 2018.

Over those years, SUVs’ global market share more than doubled, from 17% to 39%. Their annual emissions rose to 700 megatonnes of CO2, more than the annual emissions of Britain and the Netherlands together. No energy sector, except power, was responsible for a larger increase in carbon emissions, putting SUVs ahead of heavy industry (including iron, steel, cement, and aluminium), aviation, and shipping.

Subsidised fuels may be a factor in this silly indulgence, but unthinking vanity is by far the greater influence.

It may be time to regard unnecessary SUV ownership as antisocial as smoking and penalise accordingly.

More on this topic

Greta Thunberg mobbed as she arrives in Madrid for climate change meetingGreta Thunberg mobbed as she arrives in Madrid for climate change meeting

Greta Thunberg arrives in Madrid for climate change marchGreta Thunberg arrives in Madrid for climate change march

Government inaction on clean air strategyGovernment inaction on clean air strategy

Satellites aiming to measure carbon emissions ‘will not be used to police world’ say EUSatellites aiming to measure carbon emissions ‘will not be used to police world’ say EU

More in this Section

Brexit ‘will present a tsunami of building opportunities’Brexit ‘will present a tsunami of building opportunities’

FAI not only ones with questions to answerFAI not only ones with questions to answer

Louise O'Neill: We want to be conscientious consumers, but we still want our lives to be easyLouise O'Neill: We want to be conscientious consumers, but we still want our lives to be easy

Standard of mental health care should not be toleratedStandard of mental health care should not be tolerated


Lifestyle

As we wait, eager and giddy, a collective shudder of agitated ardor ripples through the theatre, like a Late, Late Toyshow audience when they KNOW Ryan’s going to give them another €150 voucher. Suddenly, a voice booms from the stage. Everyone erupts, whooping and cheering. And that was just for the safety announcement.Everyman's outstanding Jack and the Beanstalk ticks all panto boxes

Every band needs a Bez. In fact, there’s a case to be made that every workplace in the country could do with the Happy Mondays’ vibes man. Somebody to jump up with a pair of maracas and shake up the energy when things begin to flag.Happy Mondays create cheery Tuesday in Cork gig

More From The Irish Examiner