Achieving reductions in greenhouse gases in the US road transportation sector

Andrew I. Kay, Robert B. Noland, Caroline J. Rodier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


It is well established that GHG emissions must be reduced 50 to 80% by 2050 in order to limit global temperature increase to 2. °C. Achieving reductions of this magnitude in the transportation sector is a challenge and requires a multitude of policies and technology options. The research presented here analyzes three scenarios: changes in the perceived price of travel, land use intensification, and increases in transit. Elasticity estimates are derived using an activity-based travel model for the state of California and broadly representative of the US. The VISION model is used to forecast changes in technology and fuel options that are currently forecast to occur in the US for the period 2000-2040, providing a life-cycle GHG forecast for the road transportation sector. Results suggest that aggressive policy action is required, especially pricing policies, but also more on the technology side, especially increases in the carbon efficiency of medium and heavy-duty vehicles. •Travel elasticities are calculated for policy scenarios using an activity-based travel model.•These elasticities are used to estimate changes in total life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions.•Current technology and fuel policy and the strongest behavioral policy will not meet targets.•Heavy and medium-duty trucks need more aggressive technology and fuel options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-545
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
StatePublished - Jun 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Activity-based model
  • Gap analysis
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Transportation policy

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