President Biden has proposed ambitious goals for curbing climate change and investing in a cleaner U.S. economy. One critical sector is transportation, which generates 28% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – more than either electric power production or industry.
Shifting from cars that run on gasoline and diesel to electric vehicles, or EVs, is a key strategy to address transportation’s contribution to global warming. Industry watchers expect big federal investments in charging stations and tax credits for electric cars. But as Biden’s Day One executive order on climate and the environment recognized, an even greater priority is making gasoline vehicles more fuel-efficient.
My research focuses on energy problems, including transportation and climate change. I believe though EVs are important, it’s emissions from the entire automobile fleet – meaning vehicles of all types and sizes – that ultimately matter for climate. Motorcars stay on the road for a long time, so failing to adequately reduce gasoline vehicle emissions this year burdens the atmosphere with excess carbon dioxide (CO2) for many years ahead.