A brief introduction to climate change and transportation: How to reconcile people's love affair with their vehicles and society's need to reduce carbon emissions?

In a new article, Yale Climate Connections outlines worrying trends in transportation greenhouse gas emissions, both in the U.S. and globally, and points to behavioral and technological changes can be employed to to drive down emissions. 

At 1.9 billion metric tons annually. U.S. transportation emissions are steadily increasing and close to matching the peak levels that occurred in 2012. Americans collectively drove more than 3 trillion miles in 2017, the most since record-keeping began in 1980. Globally, transportation emissions trends are similar, and the outlook for the future is stark, as transportation emissions are strongly tied to global economic growth. 

The article points out the fact that small changes in travel behaviors have the potential for a major impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. For example, if the average American drove just 10% less, or 1,350 fewer miles per year, we would "cut total annual CO2 emissions in the U.S. by 110 million metric tons. That’s the same as shutting down about 28 coal-fired power plants for a year." The article also points out the steep costs of air travel: "By 2050, global emissions from passenger air travel globally are projected to increase by 300-700%, according to the European Commission." A small but growing movement to cut back on air travel is taking place in Europe and North America.

Read the full article here