How Much of the World's Emissions Come from Cars?

Passenger cars were responsible for 41% global transportation emissions in a certain year. Learn more about how much cars contribute to global CO2 emission levels.

How Much of the World's Emissions Come from Cars?

Passenger cars were the biggest source of emissions in the world in a certain year, accounting for 41 percent of global transportation emissions. CO2 emissions from passenger transport vary significantly depending on the mode of transport, with passenger cars being a major polluter, accounting for 61% of total CO2 emissions from EU road transport. In the near future, the United States is likely to commit to the long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 to 80 percent. Many assessments of this important challenge begin with the observation that transport currently accounts for 33 percent of total CO2 from fossil fuel combustion, the “majority of any end-use economic sector”.

It is often concluded that meeting the reduction in emissions objectives means eliminating the personal car as a means of transport. But before reaching that conclusion, it's worth taking a closer look at how much transport contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and what forces are already working to reduce transportation emissions. This simple example shows how the categories in which emissions are reported have a great influence on the perception of each economic sector. The distribution of emissions from the electric power industry drastically changes the respective contribution of the other sectors, with the exception of transport, where an almost negligible amount of rail transport contributes a small amount of electricity to the mix.

Transportation is “consumed by the other sectors, as is electricity, but the accounting method simply groups passenger cars, light trucks, SUVs, commercial trucks, domestic aviation, military aircraft, commercial and recreational vessels and the emissions of all the others modes of motorized transport. However, what is much more important than the relative amount of greenhouse gas emissions from this sector is the utility provided by passenger cars and light trucks and the opportunities ahead to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of personal motorized transport and, by at the same time, maximizing utility.Recent data shows that this is exactly what has happened in recent years, even without plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Since 1990, fossil fuel consumption in the U. S.

UU. It has grown at an average rate of 1 percent per year, lower than the average annual rate of population growth (1.1 percent), electricity consumption (1.9 percent) and GDP (3.0 percent). hybrid fuel and electric engines) and the types of fuels used (for example,. ethanol and biodiesel) increasingly require full life cycle analysis, including emissions from production and disposal processes (in the case of batteries), to make meaningful comparisons possible with the carbon contents of fossil fuels.

A related effect of the growing market share of these types of alternative vehicles is that the transport sector may become more similar to the industrial sector, in which energy-intensive production processes are increasingly “out of the country” under pressure from national environmental regulations.The analysis of the lifecycle of mass transport, in particular rail transit, is equally revealing. When greenhouse gas emissions associated with the underlying infrastructure required for rail transit are included in lifetime operating emissions, new rail systems are unlikely to compare favorably with the average passenger car.Of the three factors that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, miles traveled (VMT) vehicle is the most complicated and controversial in many respects. Strictly speaking, VMT for U. The fleet of vehicles is not measured but estimated from traffic counts, odometer sample readings, household surveys and other references.

Of these three factors, it could be said that VMT has the closest relationship with real utility (mobility) derived from vehicle use and the most distant relationship with greenhouse gas emissions.VMT estimates derived from travel demand models are a very poor basis for estimating greenhouse gas emissions, although regional planning agencies often use them for this purpose. Estimates of greenhouse gas emissions derived in this way do not capture excess fuel consumed as a result of congestion, among many other factors.Legislators should not despair if reducing CO2 emissions from transport sector is more expensive in short term than reducing greenhouse gas emissions in other sectors of economy. Personal transportation is responsible for relatively small part of U. Greenhouse gas emissions and provides value that consumers rightly attach high priority: mobility.

In long term consumer preferences will undoubtedly change as availability new efficient vehicle technologies and alternative fuels increases.The current volume regulatory activity in U. The Department Transportation is typical what has been seen in last two administrations. Public pension funds could invest public-private partnerships that produce more transportation projects in new and abandoned areas in United States. State legislators should start thinking about permanent replacement for gas tax such as mileage-based user rates.When inventoried in those categories electricity generation is largest source greenhouse gas emissions (34 percent in 200), followed by transportation (28 percent), industry agriculture commerce to smallest residential sector (5 percent).

During this period GHG emissions from passenger transport decreased by 16%, while GHG emissions from domestic freight transport decreased by 6%. Increasing it through carpooling or switching to public transportation cycling and walking could help reduce emissions.And in some cases you can benefit from very cheap or even tax-free car tax if your vehicle is in very low emission category.A final perception that causes personal cars to be disproportionately maligned as source greenhouse gas emissions is idea that demand for this mode transport is somehow out control and that consumers are indifferent to price signals including price gasoline.This annual report estimates total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities in United States.Analyzing greenhouse gas emissions by end-use sector...

Kristine Althouse
Kristine Althouse

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