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Albany, NY Workshop - September 2008

Global Climate Change: Transportation's Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Cynthia Burbank
National Planning and Environment Practice Leader
Parsons Brinckerhoff

Climate Change Workshop for MPOs and DOTs
September 24, 2008
Albany, NY


Much of the information presented is based on PB work for NCHRP 20-24(59).

Contractor's work is in progress and is not a NCHRP report nor does it represent the panel's views.

The NCHRP work is intended to inform AASHTO members' policy-development discussions and does not include making recommendations on matters of policy.

Climate Change is Real .and Poses Major Risks

"Warming of the climate system is unequivocal..."

-- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

"An overwhelming body of scientific evidence paints a clear picture: climate change is happening, it is caused in large part by human activity, and it will have many serious and potentially damaging effects in the decades ahead."

-- Pew Center on Climate Change

Projected Impacts of .Climate Change

Project Impacts of Climate Change: This chart shows global temperature change relative to pre-industrial temperatures. It starts with 1 degree Celsius and moves along the X-axis to 5 degrees Celsius. On the Y-Axis, there is a list of climate change impacts: Food, Water, Ecosystems, Extreme weather events, and Risk of abrupt and major irreversible changes. Each list has arrows projected out over degree increases in temperature. As the arrow moves to higher degrees of temperature change, the color becomes darker on the arrows indicating increased effects. For example, up to a 2 degree change in temperature, extensive damage to coral reefs is indicated. Up to a 5 degree change, rising numbers of species face extinction.

150 Global Firms Seek Mandatory Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Public Concern is .Substantial and Growing

60% -- effects of global warming are already happening

11% -- the predicted effects of global warming are unlikely

78% -- make homes more energy efficient

77% -- ride mass transit whenever possible

71% -- install solar panels on homes

62% -- buy hybrid cars

58% -- more drastic measures are needed

GHG Targets Are Daunting

Climate scientists 80% below 1990 by 2050
California, Montana, Florida 80% below 1990 by 2050
Oregon 75% below 1990 by 2050
Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island 75-85% below 2001 by 2050
Colorado 80 below 2005 by 2050
New Mexico 75% below 2000
Climate Security Act (Lieberman-Warner) S.2191 Up to 66% below current levels by 2050
Global Warming Reduction Act (Kerry-Snowe) S.485 62% below 1990 by 2050
Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (McCain-Lieberman) S.280 60% below 1990 by 2050
United Kingdom 60% below 1990 by 2050

Transportation is 28% of .U.S. GHG - and Rising

Transportation is 28% of U.S GHG—and Rising: This graph indicates U.S. greenhouse gas contributions by economic sector over a 15 year period from 1990 to 2005. Electricity generation is the largest GHG contributor and has grown from less than 2,000 tons of CO2 in 1990 to almost 2,500 tons in 2005. The transportation sector has grown from 1,500 tons of CO2 in 1990 to slightly less than 2,000 tons in 2005. The U.S. industry sector contributed that same amount of GHG as transportation in 1990 (at 1,500 tons of CO2) but has decline in the last 15 years to less than 1,400 tons CO2. US Agriculture CO2 emissions have stayed fairly consistent over the past 15 years, at slightly over 500 tons of CO2 per year. The commercial and residential energy use has also remained constant at just under 500 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Highway Vehicles, Especially Passenger Cars and Light Trucks, Account for 78% of Transportation C Emissions

U. S. Transportation Carbon Emissions by Mode, 2003
(Million metric tons CO2)

Pie Chart: heavy vehicles, 350; Air, 171, Rail, 43; Waterborne, 58; Pipeline/Other, 47; International/Bunker, 84; Light Vehicles, 1,113

Transportation GHG Reduction is a Four-legged Stool

The 3-legged stool:

  • Vehicles
  • Fuels
  • VMT

The 4th leg:

  • Vehicle/System Operations
Drawing of a 4-legged stool with "GHG Reductions from Transportation" on the seat. Text on each leg: Vehicles, Fuels, VMT, Vehicle/System Operations

1st & 2nd Legs: Vehicles & Fuels

Actual and Projected GHG Emissions for New Passenger Vehicles by Country, 2002-2018

Actual and Projected GHG Emissions for New Passenger Vehicles by County, 2002-2018

3rd Leg: VMT

Slowing U.S. VMT growth to 1% annually may be necessary to meet GHG targets

3rd Leg: VMT: Bar graph showing alternative scenarios for US light duty vehicle 2060 CO2 emissions. Y-Axis is million metric tons of CO2. 2005 emissions levels were 1210 million metric tons of CO2. Four scenarios are presented, the first two based on a 100 miles per gallon gasoline equivalency fleet. Scenario one had 1% annual VMT growth resulting in the lowest CO2 emissions at 377 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 2 was based on 1.5% annual growth in VMT, at 471 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 3 and 4 were based on a 50 mile per gallon gasoline equivalency fleet. Scenario 3, with a 1.0% annual VMT growth was projected to emit 760 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 4, with 1.5% annual VMT growth, resulted in 949 million metric tons of CO2. These forecast scenarios indicate that with a 50 mile per gallon gas, reductions will be much less than if fuel efficiency improves significantly to 100 miles per gallon, even with VMT reductions. To meet a target of 70% below 2005 levels in 2050, Scenario 1 must be met.

3rd LEG: VMT (continued)

4th Leg: Vehicle/System Operations

10-20% LDV GHG reduction potential:

What About Federal Cap and Trade Legislation?

S.2191 (Lieberman-Warner):

Prices Are Key to GHG Reduction

Fleet characteristics influenced by fiscal incentives

Average Lifetime Motor Vehicle Taxes by Country: This chart shows differences in motor vehicle tax between Japan, Germany, and the U.S. The Y-axis shows the lifetime average tax burden in US dollars. Japan and Germany are almost identical at about $12,000 while the U.S. is about $4,000. The graph also differentiates between upfront, annual, and fuel taxes. Japan has the highest percentage of upfront taxes (about 10% whole the US and Germany there are negligible upfront taxes. Germany has over 75% in fuel tax while the US has about two thirds in fuel tax, with the remainder in annual taxes.

What About Land Use?

-- "Growing Cooler" by ULI, CCAP, et al, 2007

What About Transit?

Transit serves 1% of PMT and 0% freight in the U.S.

APTA: Transit reduced GHG by 6.9 MMT in 2005* (1/3 of 1% of U.S. transportation GHG)

European Ministers of Transport caution:

"Modal shift policies are usually weak in terms of the quantity of CO2 abated .... Modal shift measures can be effective when well targeted, particularly when integrated with demand management measures. They can not, however, form the corner-stone of effective CO2 abatement policy....."

* APTA includes 3.0 MMT reduction for transit's effect on congestion reduction

What About Transit?.(Continued)

Many States Are Developing Aggressive Climate Action Plans

State and Local Participation in Selected Climate Change Initiatives

State and Local Participation in Selected Climate Change Initiatives:

Prepared by the Committee on Energy and Commerce statt - February 2008

Statewide Climate Change Action Plans – Transportation Elements

State Year Vehicle Low
Growth and
AZ 2020 40% 7% 25% 28%
CA 2020 54% 6% 38% 2%
CO 2020 40% 26% 22% 13%
MT 2020 61% 24% 8% 7%
NM 2020 31% 21% 16% 31%
OR 2025 80% 14% 6% 0%
WA 2020 8% 23% 64% 5%

Statewide Climate Change Action Plans –Transportation Elements

State Year Vehicle Low
Growth and
MN 2025 15% 35% 25% 25%
NC 2020 35% 12% 38% 15%
SC 2020 14% 55% 29% 1%
CT 2020 51% 38% 8% 2%
ME 2020 53% 25% 21% 1%
MD 2025 24% 12% 45% 20%
NY 2020 59% 11% 27% 4%
PA 2025 45% 36% 18% 0%
RI 2020 46% 10% 31% 14%
VT 2028 21% 14% 49% 17%

How Much Will it Cost to Reduce GHG?

How much will it cost to Reduce GHG? GHG reduction opportunities widely distributed – 2030 mid-rage case, McKinsey and Company: The chart shows the Y-axis as the cost in real 2005 dollars per ton of CO2 emissions (abatement costs). The Y-axis ranges from -230 dollars to 100 dollars per ton of CO2. The X-Axis shows potential gigatons per year of CO2. The chart shows that abatement options are widely spread across the chart, ranging from almost no potential emission reductions to a potential of over 3 gigatons per year of CO2 emissions. About 40% of the abatement could be achieved at “negative” marginal costs, where the savings over the lifecycle of these options would more than pay for the investment. These investments include fuel economy packages, residential building lighting, and commercial electronics, yet these options have a lower reduction potential. Investments above marginal cost include commercial building equipment efficiency, biomass power, and reforestation. While the marginal cost is higher, these investments indicate a greater potential to reduce emissions.

Four Views on Reducing Transportation GHG

  1. David Greene and Andreas Schaefer, for Pew Center on Climate Change (2003)
  2. European Council of Ministers of Transport (2006)
  3. Sir Isaac Stern, "The Stern Report to the U.K. Government" (2007)
  4. ULI "Growing Cooler" report (2007)

1. David Greene and Andreas Schaefer, for Pew Center

A comprehensive, tailored set of policies could cut U.S. transportation GHG in half by 2030

David Greene and Andreas Schaefer, for Pew Center. Sources of Transportation GHG Reductions, 2015 and 3030: The Y-axis represents the total sum of components in percentages. The components are: information, systems, infrastructure, pricing, carbon cap, hydrogen, low-carbon fuels, air efficiency, heavy duty truck efficiency, and light duty vehicle (LDV) efficiency. In 2015, the largest contributors to GHG reductions are LDV efficiency, pricing, and a carbon cap. By 2030, the largest areas are projected to be LDV efficiency, pricing, carbon cap, infrastructure, low-carbon fuels, and hydrogen.

2. European Council of .Ministers of Transport (2006)

3. "Stern Review" for U.K. Government (2007)

4. ULI "Growing Cooler" .Report, 2007

-- Similar recommendations are in Brookings reports

Climate Adaptation Will be as Important as GHG Reduction

-- TRB Special Report, March 2008

A Top 10 List for .Consideration by State DOTs

GHG Strategies

  1. Support/invest in vehicle & fuel improvements
  2. Increase ridesharing/transit/bike/ped programs
  3. Promote/support land use improvements
  4. Support/implement pricing strategies
  5. Manage speed/congestion

Process Strategies

  1. Develop expertise in GHG/energy reduction
  2. Develop expertise in climate adaptation
  3. Establish links with MPOs and environmental organizations
  4. Involve/educate legislatures, the public and key civic groups
  5. Estimate cost-effectiveness of strategies

BONUS: Develop a proactive state DOT climate/energy action plan

Updated: 12/23/2016
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