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    Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions


    David L. GreeneHoward H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy

    Steven E. PlotkinArgonne National Laboratory

    January 2011

    Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

    from U.S. Transportation

    This report discusses options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. transportation

    sector. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established by the Pew Charitable Trusts to

    bring a cooperative approach to the global climate change debate. We inform this debate through

    wide-ranging analyses that add new facts and perspectives in four areas: policy (domestic and

    international), economics, environment, and solutions.

    Pew Center on Global Climate Change

    2101 Wilson Boulevard

    Suite 550

    Arlington, VA 22201

    Phone (703) 516 - 4146

  • Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation


    David L. GreeneHoward H. Baker, Jr. Center for PuBliC PoliCy

    Steven E. Plotkinargonne national laBoratory

    January 2011

    Prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change

    Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    from U.S. Transportation

    Project Director Judi GreenwaldPew Center on gloBal Climate CHange

    Project Manager Nick NigroPew Center on gloBal Climate CHange

  • iiiReducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation




    ContentsForeword v

    Executive Summary vii

    1. Introduction 11.1 Study Focus 11.2 Global Energy Challenges Facing Transportation 31.3 U.S. Transportation 7

    2. Mitigation Options 122.1 Passenger Cars and Light-Duty Trucks Efficiency 122.2 Freight Trucks and Buses 212.3 Commercial Aircraft 242.4 Rail, Water, and Pipeline 302.5 System Efficiency 322.6 Moving Away from Petroleum-Based Fuels 422.7 Potential Breakthrough Technologies for the Long Term 51

    3. Policies to Promote Mitigation 543.1 Introduction 543.2 Fuel Economy and GHG Standards 553.3 Pricing 603.4 Policy Strategy for Transportation GHG Mitigation 70

    4. Mitigation Potential 744.1 Scenarios of Public Attitude Towards Climate Change 774.2 Scenarios of Public Policy Context 784.3 Scenarios for Rate of Technological Progress 784.4 Scenarios of Energy Prices 794.5 Policy Impacts 79

    5. Conclusion 84

    Appendices 87Appendix A: Cost Estimates for Advanced Technologies and Fuels 87Appendix B: The Kaya Method 91Appendix C: The Governments Role in Energy Transitions 93

    References 95

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    + Pew Center on Global Climate Changeiv

    AcknowledgementsThe Pew Center would like to thank the National Cooperative Highway Research Program of the

    Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Academies of Science for providing financial support for

    this report. The Pew Center and the authors would also like to thank Cindy Burbank of Parsons Brinckerhoff and

    Frank Southworth of the Georgia Institute of Technology for their substantial input, and to thank John German of

    the International Council on Clean Transportation, Roland Hwang of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kara

    Kockelman of the University of Texas at Austin, Tim Lipman of the University of California at Berkeley, and the TRB

    panel for their review of and advice on a previous draft of this report.

    The opinions and conclusions expressed or implied in this report are those of the authors who performed

    the research. They are not necessarily those of the Transportation Research Board, the National Research Council,

    or the program sponsors. This report is not a publication of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program,

    Transportation Research Board, National Research Council, or The National Academies.

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    Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation

    Foreword Transportation is vital to our economy and quality of life. But it is also the primary cause of U.S. oil

    dependency, and is responsible for more than a quarter of U.S. emissions of the greenhouse gases that are warming

    our planet. This report examines whether we can substantially reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from U.S.

    transportation. Report authors David Greene and Steve Plotkin provide three plausible scenarios of technology,

    policy, and public attitudes that result in cost-effective GHG reductions throughout the transportation sector. The

    High Mitigation Scenario shows we can reduce GHG emissions from transportation by as much as 65 percent below

    todays levels by 2050. In order to do so, we need action on three fronts: targeted public policies, technological

    progress, and commitment from Americans as consumers and citizens.

    Technology. Substantial improvements in fuel economy and GHG emission performance are achievable today just through greater utilization of existing technology. By 2035, the fuel efficiency

    of the U.S. light-duty fleet can improve dramatically (50 mpg for conventional gasoline vehicles and

    75 mpg for hybrid vehicles)if new standards and/or market pressures push vehicle designers to do

    so. Using a fuel mix of electricity, biofuels, and hydrogen could significantly reduce the number of

    gasoline-powered passenger vehicles on the road by 2050. Technological advances in other vehicles

    including trucks, buses, and airplanes could improve the efficiency of those modes substantially.

    In fact, technologies exist today to reduce GHG emissions from freight trucks by 30 to 50 percent,

    with even greater reductions achievable over the next several decades.

    Policy. To achieve deep reductions in GHG emissions and oil dependence, public policy must be multi-faceted, flexible, and adaptive. We need to level the playing field for, and spur advances in,

    low-carbon fuels, advanced vehicles, and lower-emitting transportation modes. Policies are needed

    to pull technology that exists today into the marketplace, support technological development for

    the future, and correct market failures that have solidified our dependence on fossil fuels. This will

    require a combination of performance standards, pricing mechanisms, and research, development,

    demonstration, and deployment. We need to begin now with the many policies we know to be effective

    and cost-effective, and adapt as we learn how technologies and policies perform in the real world.

    Public attitudes. The extent to which we can achieve climate protection and energy security depends on what Americans do in the public square and in the marketplace. If as citizens we support the

    necessary public policies, and as consumers we choose advanced technologies, then public policy,

    technological progress, and market success will be mutually reinforcing.

    We can succeed if we begin now and sustain our efforts over time. This is of course a considerable

    challenge, but one that we must take on with great urgency.

    Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change

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    + Pew Center on Global Climate Changevi

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    Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from U.S. Transportation

    Executive Summary This report examines the prospects for substantially reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from

    the U.S. transportation sector, which accounts for 27 percent of the GHG emissions of the entire U.S. economy and

    30 percent of the worlds transportation GHG emissions. Without shifts in existing policies, the U.S. transportation

    sectors GHG emissions are expected to grow by about 10 percent by 2035, and will still account for a quarter of

    global transportation emissions at that time. If there is to be any hope that damages from climate change can be

    held to moderate levels, these trends must change.

    This report shows that through a combination of policies and improved technologies, these trends can be

    changed. It is possible to cut GHG emissions from the transportation sector cost-effectively by up to 65 percent

    below 2010 levels by 2050 by improving vehicle efficiency, shifting to less carbon intensive fuels, changing travel

    behavior, and operating more efficiently. A major co-benefit of reducing transportations GHG emissions is the

    resulting reductions in oil use and improvements in energy security.

    This report develops three scenarios of improved transportation efficiency and reduced GHG emissions

    through 2050, with both technological progress and policy ambition increasing from the first to the third scenario.

    The three scenarios show GHG reductions of 17, 39, and 65 percent from 2010 emissions levels in the year 2050.

    Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

    Light-duty vehicles (LDVs)passenger cars and light trucksaccount for nearly three fifths of the total

    energy use and GHG emissions of the U.S. transportation sector. Currently, the average fuel economy of new LDVs is

    26 miles per gallon (mpg) on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) vehicle certification tests, or about 21 to 22

    mpg when adjusted for on-road conditions. Existing fuel economy standards and GHG emission standards require

    that this average rise to over 35 mpg (about 29 mpg on-road) in 2016a 35 percent improvement. By 2035, if

    new standards or market pressures push vehicle designers to accelerate their efforts to improve fuel efficiency, a

    new midsize car might attain about 50 mpg on-road or more with a conventional drivetrain and 75 mpg on-road

    with a hybrid-elect


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