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On 22 September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced China’s plan to become “carbon neutral” before 2060, establishing itself as a climate leader, racing ahead of the US. China’s Net Zero goals could avoid the release of nearly 215 billion tonnes of CO2 over the next four decades. If successful, this effort alone is expected to cut about 0.2°C to 0.3°C from global warming projections, helping contain the mean global temperature rise to 2.35 °C above the pre-industrial levels by 2100, instead of 2.59 °C. The country is aiming to reduce its emission intensity by 65 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

China’s announcement is expected to influence other developing countries including those in ASEAN to follow suit. In fact, Japan and South Korea made their net zero commitments public within weeks of China’s announcement, setting the tone for decarbonized economic growth in Asia. While it is too soon to extrapolate the onset of a trend, their commitments set a precedent and put pressure on big emitters to scale-up their carbon reduction targets. It also creates big opportunities which would be unleashed by the wave of investment into decarbonization technologies.

With growing focus on mitigating climate risks and achieving the Paris Agreement goals for 2050, countries worldwide are realizing the importance of decarbonizing the transport sector — which accounts for one-fourth of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019.

Direct electrification of transportation (use of electric vehicles or EVs) and the use of green electrolytes (when direct electrification is not possible) are being considered as the most efficient means of reducing sector emissions. However, this has also led to the need for decarbonizing electricity generation.

According to a study by the universities of Nijmegen, Exeter and Cambridge, an electric car’s average lifetime emissions are up to 70 percent1 less than a petrol car in countries such as France and Sweden (with high share of renewable- and nuclear-generated electricity), and nearly 30 percent lower in the UK. This has led to a heightened demand for renewable electricity and electro fuels, including hydrogen, to promote clean mobility. 

The excerpt was taken from KPMG Thought Leadership entitled Decarbonization of Transport: The Journey of Electric Vehicles in ASEAN.