Analysis by the America Is All coalition of leaders calculates that Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit alone are not enough to meet the goals of the US climate target.
One of the largest single sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the US – the transportation sector – can deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions required to reach national climate goals but “bold action” is required, a new report finds.
In April 2021, the Biden administration announced its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions, nationally, by at least 50 per cent by 2030.
Electrification of road transport
According to America Is All In, since then, its findings are both promising and challenging. The US is poised for major breakthroughs to reduce pollution from transportation, particularly through electrification of road transport. But the report warns that recent and pending congressional legislation is insufficient, and that increased independent federal and local government leadership is required.
An “All-In” Pathway to 2030: Transportation Sector Emissions Reduction Potential reveals that the transportation sector can deliver one-fifth of the emissions reductions needed to successfully reach the Biden administration’s climate target of 50-52 per cent reductions by 2030 from 2005 levels.
All-In reports this reduction is significantly more progress than previous analyses had identified. It claims with continued and accelerated efforts from cities, states, businesses, and the federal government, transport emissions could reduce by 34 per cent, or more than 600 million metric tons of CO2 (MtCO2), through the remainder of the decade.
“We always knew that rising to the climate challenge would be difficult. But as this report underscores, we have already made real progress within the transportation sector,” said Professor Nate Hultman, the corresponding author for the report and director of the Centre for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland.
“We always knew that rising to the climate challenge would be difficult. But as this report underscores, we have already made real progress within the transportation sector”
“Thanks to better fuel economy standards, state and local policies supporting cleaner transportation, and the recent infrastructure law, we are more than halfway to our transportation sector goals.”
He continued: “Yet more will be needed from Congress to help deliver the rates of EV deployment and the power sector decarbonisation needed to reach our climate goals – and keep global goals of limiting 1.5C alive.”
Since announcing the US climate target, or nationally determined contribution (NDC), new federal transport policies have been developed and passed. For example, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will lead to wider deployment of charging infrastructure.
Combined with current policies, the report shows how these measures would deliver more than 300 MtCO2, but this is only half of the transportation sector reductions needed to hit the 2030 goal. Rather than reduce emissions directly, the IIJA aims to set up the infrastructure needed to enable critical energy system transformations, including the deployment of 500,00 electric vehicles.
The US transportation sector could be set on a pathway to reach the overall US target with additional action from Congress in the form of tax credits, investments, and other strong climate actions; new legislation and implementation from cities, states, and businesses; and new and enhanced federal emission regulations.
The report sets out to detail this set of policy pathways – and shows how they add up to reduce overall transportation emissions by 34 percent in the next eight years – helping to deliver a cleaner and healthier transportation fleet.
“This report’s deep analysis shows that we can – and we must – reduce carbon pollution from our transportation sector to meet our climate goals”
According to All-In, here’s what that pathway to 34 per cent transportation emissions reductions looks like:
- the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and current policies from all-of-society delivers 19 per cent reductions from 2005 levels – over halfway towards the US goal
- Congress can achieve an additional three per cent of emission cuts by passing a $7,500 federal EV tax credit
- city and state governments, along with businesses and civil society, can contribute five per cent through zero-emission vehicle mandates, municipal EV fleet targets, and vehicle miles travelled targets – nearly 75 per cent of the way towards the goal
- to cross the finish line, the final seven per cent of reductions would come from federal regulation on heavy-duty vehicles, increased next-generation biofuels, and more stringent corporate average fuel economy (Cafe) standards.
“This report’s deep analysis shows that we can – and we must – reduce carbon pollution from our transportation sector to meet our climate goals,” added Michael Berube, deputy assistant secretary of sustainable transportation at the US Department of Energy (DOE).
“We’ve already made great progress, and now is the time to accelerate action by expanding access to electric vehicles and getting cleaner trucks and heavy-duty vehicles on the road, which means good-paying jobs, less money spent at the pump, and a cleaner, healthier planet.”
America Is All In is a coalition of leaders assembled in support of climate action in the US. It is driving a nationwide movement to cut emissions in half or more by 2030 from 2005 levels and reach net zero emissions by 2050, while guarding against the impacts of climate disruption.