Publication Detail

Modeling Transitions in the California Light-Duty Vehicles Sector to Achieve Deep Reductions in Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UCD-ITS-RP-12-23

Reprint

Sustainable Transportation Energy Pathways (STEPS)

Suggested Citation:
Leighty, Wayne, Joan M. Ogden, Christopher Yang (2012) Modeling Transitions in the California Light-Duty Vehicles Sector to Achieve Deep Reductions in Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Energy Policy 44 (May 2012), 52 - 67

California’s target for reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. We develop transition scenarios for meeting this goal in California’s transportation sector, with focus on light-duty vehicles (LDVs). We explore four questions: (1) what options are available to reduce transportation sector GHG emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050; (2) how rapidly would transitions in LDV markets, fuels, and travel behaviors need to occur over the next 40 years; (3) how do intermediate policy goals relate to different transition pathways; (4) how would rates of technological change and market adoption between 2010 and 2050 impact cumulative GHG emissions? We develop four LDV transition scenarios to meet the 80in50 target through a combination of travel demand reduction, fuel economy improvements, and low-carbon fuel supply, subject to restrictions on trajectories of technological change, potential market adoption of new vehicles and fuels, and resource availability.

These scenarios exhibit several common themes: electrification of LDVs, rapid improvements in vehicle efficiency, and future fuels with less than half the carbon intensity of current gasoline and diesel. Availability of low-carbon biofuels and the level of travel demand reduction are “swing factors” that influence the degree of LDV electrification required.

Keywords: alternative fuels; advanced vehicles; low-carbon future