September 15, 2009
One of the highlights of the Oregon Transportation Summit on Friday was the keynote presentation on the new Moving Cooler report, given by the project manager for the study, Joanne Potter.
The report was funded by a consortium as diverse as the Shell Oil and APTA (the American Public Transportation Association), so we can hope that it does not have too much bias.
Two top line messages from the briefing presentation (PDF, 2.8M):
- Vehicle technology, even with the new cafe standards, will only help reduce emissions a relatively small amount.
- The most impactful set of strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions all involve pricing in a significant way.
September 15, 2009 10:02 AM
Ron Swaren Says:
I'm generally for people using less fuel in their driving. That is why even a few decades ago I had full size cars that could get 25 mpg---on the highway at least, using overdrive.
There are a lot of other consumer habits that contribute to greenhouse gases....varying of course from region to region. People use personal transportation as an essential and vital element in their economic paradigm. Until the costs of constructing and using mass transit are reined back in, these highly tax subsidized systems do require people all across the US to get to work somehow to earn incomes that are then highly taxed to pay for the mass transit systems. Riding a bicycle to your job in upper Michigan, Minnesota or Wisconsin during the winter simply may not be possible.
People living in Tuscon would use very litle fossil fuels to produce heat. The summertime cooling of their homes could be accomplished through other means than standard AC---there are lots of technologies on the market. Federal money COULD go in to analyzing these needs and supporting researchers. Conversely people in Portland and Seattle who live in big drafty houses with oil or gas heating are probably creating more CO2--even if they do bike to work--than the first floor condo dweller in Arizona. Of course fossil fuel heating and cooling in the northern US is by far the worst contributor.
Concrete production worldwide accounts for about nine percent of greenhouse gas. This is mainly due to the lime used in the curing on concrete. I have seen some trends in high rise residential construction that are moving away from all concrete construction to higher proportion of steel products. Of course producing the steel releases gases, too.
Modern manufacturing produces, at times, some really radical greenhouse gases. The identification of NF3 in the production of LCD screens was shocking when a scientist calculated that NF3 had 17,000 times the greenhouse effect of CO2, pound for pound. Hopefully not that much NF3 is required, but there are other dangerous compounds released in modern manufacturing. Lately there has been some focus on diesel fuels, not for their CO2 production, but for the nanoparticles released that contribute to lung damage.
Bunker crude, used for ships that bring in imports to the US are now identified as a huge source of pollution. Apparently all ships are horrible polluters because there is no emissions technology and because moving products over water is inherently energy consuming. Buying less imported goods might help---a little. Manufacturers here are using fossil fuel, too. Just not as much in transporting their products, if they go by rail, anyway.
September 15, 2009 11:42 AM
Garlynn -- Undergroundscience.blogspot.com Says:
Having looked at this study in some detail, I think it's a bit too conservative, and it places a bit too much value on pricing in relative terms. I'm not denying that pricing may have the effect calculated by the study (I really don't know); but I am suggesting that other factors, such as smart land use (density, design, distance to transit, destinations, regional proximity, etc.) could have as much if not more of an effect, if properly applied, than pricing. In fact, pricing and land use would seem to go naturally hand in hand, with multiplicative positive and synchronous impacts from the two. Not to mention the additional transit investment that would be required to support each (and would in turn be supported by each).
I think that Growing Cooler (Ewing et. al, ULI 2008) presents a much fuller perspective on this issue, whereas Moving Cooler is relatively weak sauce in comparison.