This independent report, Decarbonizing Transportation, explores and documents the costs and benefits of a suite of abatement strategies that could be used to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from on-road transportation within the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region, including Washington, DC. This report is intended to inform and assist government officials and stakeholders within the region, as they undertake efforts to address the challenges of climate change and adaptation, while striving to further improve local air quality. The results indicate that this 12-state region (Maine to Virginia, plus DC) could achieve a 60 – 80 percent reduction in on-road GHG emissions by 2050 using three broad strategies: (1) Increased fuel efficiency of new conventional vehicles; (2) Decarbonizing traditional liquid transportation fuels; and (3) High levels of transportation electrification combined with further efforts to decarbonize electricity production.
Achieving this level of GHG reduction within the region will require a societal investment of $12 billion - $25 billion (2015$) over the next 10 – 12 years, primarily to support vehicle electrification. However, by 2030, annual fuel cost savings will outweigh the incremental annual purchase costs for electric vehicles (EVs). By 2037, the total societal investment required to put the region on a path to achieve these GHG reductions will be paid off, and the region will start to see net financial savings. By 2050, the cumulative net financial savings for the region’s residents are projected to be more than $150 billion – or at least seven times the initial societal investment.
In addition to significantly reducing GHG emissions, the modeled abatement strategies are projected to reduce net nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM-2.5) emissions from vehicles. The cumulative monetized value of these emissions reductions (GHG, NOx and PM-2.5) is projected to be $144 billion – $226 billion through 2050. Including both financial and environmental net benefits, the total cumulative societal benefits from these GHG reductions are estimated to be $311 billion – $383 billion.
The report was made possible by funding from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).