Citizens and policymakers in many countries have never been more committed to combating climate change across all sectors. One high-emitting sector that is often overlooked, when compared to industry and manufacturing, is transportation. Transport currently contributes 23% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of energy use. Globally, the sector is expected to double by 2030, according to IEA. Decarbonizing transport is a major challenge with some strong and powerful advocates calling for a single one-shot solution (electrification). However, achieving decarbonization in the transport sector will require multiple strategies that understand fossil fuel demand will remain in place for some time. In response, industry groups have looked to low carbon fuels and vehicles (LCFV) initiatives as a potential decarbonization strategy.
LCFVs are designed to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change by reducing conventional fossil fuel demand in transportation. Policymakers are beginning to implement these initiatives under an array of climate policies and renewable standards, requiring biofuels blending, electrification, other alternative fuels and tough fuel efficiency standards, among other measures. But, are policymakers doing enough to diversify fuels, improve efficiency and reduce emissions in the transport sector?
Currently, transportation emissions mitigation is largely overshadowed by mitigation of coal-fired power plants, but the consequences of the growing transport sector are just as, if not more immediate. The global car fleet is expected to double in the next 20-25 years, and with oil prices so low, people are driving more than ever, particularly in the U.S. The march toward a global carbon-smart economy is going to continue, although how it will evolve in the U.S. is yet to be determined. Low carbon fuels, zero emission vehicles, oil demand and air pollution mitigation all are part of the climate change policy mix, and how best to balance these various pieces will be critical for federal and state policymakers.