Transforming the Transportation Sector: Energy Security, Climate Change and Transportation
The transportation sector sits at the intersection of energy security and climate change policy decisions. Since petroleum based fuels power approximately 95 percent of the U.S. transportation sector, concerns over oil supply security and price argue for a more diversified fuel base. However, given existing infrastructure and the size of the current automotive fleet, finding a scalable and cost effective replacement for oil is an expensive proposition that may raise new security as well as other concerns. On the climate side, the transportation sector accounts for 25 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but models suggest that the most cost-effective GHG reductions exist primarily in the electricity sector. Consequently, it is quite plausible that even economy-wide climate policy will leave the transportation sector largely carbon-intensive in the next several decades and largely dependent on oil absent adequate complementary policies such as vehicle and fuel performance standards as well as infrastructure and incentives aimed at moderating travel demand.
The current U.S. transportation system is the product of decades of significant private and public sector investment. The public and private sector will need to make major new investments to ensure reliable and affordable transportation services while transforming the sector. Transforming the transportation sector requires policymakers to examine the full spectrum of policy decisions that influence the current and future system. This includes fuel and vehicle options as well as infrastructure, planning, and behavioral changes. This session will examine the energy security and climate implications of our current transportation system, as well as some of the options for transforming the transportation sector to something more sustainable.