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Prioritizing Climate Change Mitigation Alternatives: Comparing Transportation Technologies to Options in Other Sectors


Research Report

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS), Alumni Theses and Dissertations

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Suggested Citation:
Lutsey, Nicholas P. (2008) Prioritizing Climate Change Mitigation Alternatives: Comparing Transportation Technologies to Options in Other Sectors. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-08-15

Governments worldwide and in the U.S. are enacting a variety of measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from various economic sectors. Tools to prioritize these measures are generally lacking in analytical rigor. On the other hand, the research literature continues to proliferate with assessments of energy efficiency and GHG mitigation options that can be adapted to the policy evaluation process. This dissertation formulates an analytical method to better prioritize future climate change policy actions.

A framework is developed to integrate current research on climate change mitigation technology alternatives from all sectors of the U.S. economy on an equal footing. Applying consistent economic assumptions, a multi-benefit cost-effectiveness accounting tool is developed that simultaneously evaluates the technology costs, lifetime energy saving benefits, and GHG reductions in a single cost-per-tonne-reduced metric. The framework synthesizes the disparate studies’ data to compare and prioritize options across sectors as well as determine the aggregate impacts from multiple sectors’ GHG mitigation actions.

A broad portfolio of cost-effective technologies is available from each major sector of the economy. The findings indicate that there are many net-beneficial “no regrets” climate change mitigation technologies – where the energy savings of the technologies outweigh the initial costs – and most of these technologies are not being widely adopted. Transportation technologies are found to represent approximately half of the “no regrets” mitigation opportunities and about one-fifth of the least-cost GHG mitigation measures to achieve the benchmark 1990 GHG level. With the adoption of known near-term technologies, GHG emissions by 2030 could be reduced by 14% with net-zero-cost technologies, and emissions could be reduced by about 30% with technologies that each have net costs less than $30 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced.

Ph.D. Dissertation