The transportation sector in the United States (U.S.) relies almost exclusively on petroleum fuels, which accounted for over 96 percent of transport greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2009. Policies aimed to reduce transportation emissions have made some progress. These policies include the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) established by the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). Despite these important policies, future U.S. transportation emissions are projected to continue to rise, although at a slower rate, in the next 20 years (EIA 2009). To gain large reductions in transport-related GHG emissions, more actions are needed. These actions include improving vehicle technology efficiency, reducing vehicle miles traveled and lowering the GHG intensity of transportation fuels. Many policies have already been adopted to introduce alternative fuels into the transportation sector, with the goals of reducing energy dependence on foreign oil and improving local and regional air quality. These policies have largely failed (McNutt and Rodgers 2004, Sperling and Gordon 2009). The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) is a promising approach to reduce GHG emissions by decar bonizing transportation fuels. An LCFS has the following features:
• Is technology neutral
• Uses a lifecycle GHG intensity standard
• Targets a range of transport fuels
• Incorporates market mechanisms by allowing credit trading
This chapter reviews the LCFS standard adopted in California and the European Union (EU) and compares the LCFS policy instrument to other measures. It explores the possibility of a national LCFS in the United States, including key shortcomings and challenges.
Chapter in Climate and Transportation Solutions: Findings from the 2009 Asilomar Conference on Transportation and Energy Policy, edited by Daniel Sperling and James S. Cannon, Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis 2010.