Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff
The transportation sector is the second largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, after energy production. According to the United States (US) Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), transportation of all sorts in the US in 2012 resulted in 28 percent of the total 6526 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent (CO2e) emissions, whereas electricity production contributed 32 percent. The percentage contribution of transportation to climate change in the US has been growing, as travel has increased and as until recently there have been ‘limited gains in fuel efficiency across the US vehicle fleet’. Significant further efficiency gains are to be expected from efforts to promote fuel switching, new regulations, improved operations and efforts to reduce travel demand. Regulatory measures targeting light-duty vehicles alone ‘will result in [model year] 2025 vehicles emitting one-half of the GHG emissions of a [model year] 2010 vehicle, representing the most significant federal action ever taken to reduce GHG emissions and improve fuel economy’. The sources of emissions from the transportation sector vary, but the principle contributors are motor vehicle and other passenger transport emissions (principally airplanes and ships) and commercial (freight) transport modes, and they principally contribute carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. The largest sources of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions include passenger cars and light-duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and minivans. These sources account for over half of the emissions from the sector.
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