Fuel-Efficient Cars Won't Save [The World] California

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
fuel efficient cars wont save the world california

Automakers should start taking a page from the survival strategies of other easily-maligned industries, starting with the slogan “fuel-efficient cars don’t save the world, people save the world.” This blame-deflecting maxim encapsulates the lessons learned by researchers at UC Davis’s Institute For Transportation Studies while studying options to reduce California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80 percent (of 1990 levels) by 2050. Green Car Congress has all the technical minutiae on the study (as usual) for those who care much and work little. Bottom line: the “reference scenario,” which projects current trends forward, predicts a 50 percent reduction in average vehicle fuel economy. But a doubling population projected for the 1990 – 2050 period will cause GHG emissions to rise by 62 percent. Several “silver bullet” scenarios centering on large-scale shifts to biofuels, fuel-cell vehicles, electric vehicles and ICE efficiency improvements all fail to meet the ambitious 80in50 goal. The 80in50 goal can be met, albeit through either second-gen biofuel breakthroughs or a new hydrogen-based transportation infrastructure. The only way to meet the goal with only hybrids and EVs: a radical reduction in miles driven. Even then, hitting the goal exactly is only possible if you exclude inter-state transport. As the report notes, “advances in other vehicle subsectors are largely erased by activity growth in air travel and domestic and international shipping by sea and air.”

Join the conversation
4 of 6 comments
  • Dastanley Dastanley on Sep 09, 2008

    Lumbergh 21: I'm with you on that but can you imagine the outcry from special interest groups? This is CA remember. The minorities will cry "genocide" and "racism" (and by 2050 the current minorites are projected to be majorities), the Catholics will cry foul, special interest groups will find fault, the ACLU will get its fingers into the pie, etc. Remember this is CA. Anyway, back to cars. Perhaps electric cars will be widespread enough and hydro-electric power and nuclear power plants will slowly counter the coal burning ones (and we have two nasty coal burning power plants in our county in NM).

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Sep 09, 2008

    "a doubling population projected for the 1990 - 2050 period" Where are they going to put them. That is about 35 million people. There is not a heck of a lot of land that is not desert or mountain in CA that is not already covered with people.

  • on Sep 10, 2008

    The state cannot limit the number of births a person has. In fact anti-abortion laws make it so the state will care of anyone you don't want. Live is a fundamental interest the state has an interest in preserving. Population explosion is mostly expected from immigrants crossing the border. As it stands they already cost the city of Los Angeles billions in medi-CAL and free education. Some $11-12,000 a student. So approximately 9-12 billion a year to take care of illegals at our expense with higher taxes and less services or new roads. Go build a freaking border fence. I mow my own god damn lawn and clean my own house. Those illegals have been quoted in the los angeles times as saying that were such a rich country we should take care of them. We're not rich, we just defer payment of bills to the next generation.

  • Adonis Adonis on Sep 10, 2008

    @law stud Those darn illegals. All of California's problems can be blamed on them, can't they. Anyways, it seems to me that a silver bullet scenario is the only way to reach that goal.