Climate 411

New Report on Cars and Carbon

The author of today’s post, John DeCicco, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow for Automobile Strategies at Environmental Defense.

How much carbon dioxide (CO2) are cars emitting, and is it getting better or worse? The answer is in our new report on Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens. It’s the third in a series we began in 2002, and covers 1990-2005. Some findings of note:

  • Toyota and BMW have shown that it’s possible to cut the CO2 emissions rate while enjoying strong sales growth – a lesson to the other 10 automakers we examined, whose emissions rates all increased in 2005 compared to 1990. Automakers can significantly reduce carbon emissions through creative design and incremental enhancement of conventional technologies.
  • The average CO2 emissions rate from new vehicles fell 3 percent from 2004 to 2005 – the first drop in nearly two decades. We probably can thank high gas prices for this since it made new car buyers think about fuel efficiency. Gas-guzzling truck-based SUVs became less appealing, and this accelerated the shift to car-based SUVs with better fuel efficiency.

But we still have a long way to go. Despite the one year drop, the emissions rate remains 4 percent higher than it was in 1988.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution, Greenhouse Gas Emissions / Read 6 Responses