The transportation sector is responsible for almost a third of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, more than any other sector. Between 1990 and 2017, emissions from transportation increased more than any other sector in absolute terms, underscoring the importance of addressing sector emissions to help meet climate change goals. There are more reasons to reassess how we power transportation beyond just reducing emissions. As explained in our recent webinar series, some experts say that diversifying our choice of fuels could help support the American economy and potentially free us from dependence on foreign oil. 

The global market for alternative fuels is currently growing at a compound annual rate of 13.1% and is expected to be worth approximately $592.30 billion by 2022.  In terms of total costs of ownership, battery electric vehicles are expected to become cheaper than internal combustion vehicles in just a few years,  and they are expected to reach 35% of new car sales globally by 2040. Despite these trends, petroleum-based fuels still account for roughly 92% of total U.S. transportation energy use. Potential solutions to address our dependency on petroleum and its related greenhouse gas emissions include creating a competitive fuel market or, as some states and regions are doing, creating policies to encourage emission reductions in the transportation sector. 

A coalition of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding this fall on the Transportation Climate Initiative (TCI), the topic of one of our recent webinars. The collaborative program “seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector.” Each state’s participation is coordinated by a state or district agency that determines whether and how they will participate in individual projects and working groups. Though they may vary by state and region, programs such as the TCI are becoming more common. While it’s not entirely clear what the future of transportation will look like, these types of initiatives may play an important role in determining what kind of vehicles we drive 10-20 years from now.


Learn more in our webinar series on the subject:

Part one – Policy and the Future of Transportation Fuels
Part two – Are We Energy Independent?