U.S. Can Reduce Transporation GHG by 65%, Report Says

by | Jan 13, 2011

“Reasonable actions” in the realms of technology, policy and consumer behavior could deliver up to a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from transportation by 2050, a report says.

The report (pdf) by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change lays out three plausible scenarios of actions that could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, which is responsible for more than a quarter of U.S. GHG emissions.

The “high mitigation” scenario would reduce emissions by 65 percent below 2010 levels by 2050, while a “mid mitigation” scenario would cause a 39 percent reduction and a “low mitigation” scenario a 17 percent drop, the report said.

Policy actions recommended in the high mitigation scenario include congestion pricing, greater control of land use, aggressive fuel economy standards for highway vehicles and commercial aircraft, and the federal government committing to an aggressive goal for economy-wide GHG emissions, such as 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

High-mitigation technology actions include putting about 100 million hybrid vehicles on the road by 2050, use of hydrogen-powered cars, advances in vehicle controls, and greater use of biofuels in air transport and trucking.

The stipulated hybrid deployment is quite optimistic, the report noted, and depends on substantial cost reductions in hybrid batteries, strong incentives for consumers and major investments in charging stations and electricity distribution networks.

To reach the 65 percent GHG reduction, the public must become very concerned about climate change, seeing is as a serious threat, the researchers said. Consumers must change their driving behavior and become accepting of stronger environmental policies.

The report was written by David L. Greene of the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy, and Steven E. Plotkin of Argonne National Laboratory.

“The Gulf oil disaster tragically reminds us that our oil dependence carries significant risks for our security and environment,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “Cost-effective transportation solutions exist now to begin to manage these risks.”

The Obama administration has said it is unlikely to set the 60 mpg by 2025 fuel economy standard demanded by many environmental groups.

But today the Wall Street Journal said the administration is considering as much as 62 mpg by 2025, a standard which the auto industry opposes.

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