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Impacts of urban form on future US passenger-vehicle greenhouse gas emissions

  • Hankey, Steve
  • Marshall, Julian D.
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    Urban form - for example, sprawl versus infill development - impacts people's daily travel patterns and annual vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT). This paper explores how urban form impacts greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from passenger-vehicles, the largest source of urban transportation GHG emissions. Our research uses a recently published urban scaling rule to develop six scenarios for high- and low-sprawl US urban growth. We develop and apply a Monte Carlo approach that describes ensemble statistics for several dozen urban areas rather than forecasting changes in individual urban areas. Then, employing three vehicle- and fuel-technology scenarios, we estimate total passenger VKT and resulting GHG emissions for US urban areas. Our results indicate that comprehensive compact development could reduce US 2000-2020 cumulative emissions by up to 3.2Â GtCO2e (15-20% of projected cumulative emissions). In general, vehicle GHG mitigation may involve three types of approaches: more-efficient vehicles, lower-GHG fuels, and reduced VKT. Our analyses suggest that all three categories must be evaluated; otherwise, improvements in one or two areas (e.g., vehicle fuel economy, fuel carbon content) can be offset by backsliding in a third area (e.g., VKT growth).

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V2W-4X24C5B-1/2/9fd350e04d919501e3dd2a2d5e99a8a9
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 38 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 9 (September)
    Pages: 4880-4887

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:38:y:2010:i:9:p:4880-4887
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Cervero, Robert & Radisch, Carolyn, 1996. "Travel choices in pedestrian versus automobile oriented neighborhoods," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 127-141, July.
    2. Farrell, Alexander E. & Sperling, Dan, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt6j67z9w6, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Christopher Zegras, P., 2007. "As if Kyoto mattered: The clean development mechanism and transportation," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 5136-5150, October.
    4. Farrell, Alexander & Sperling, Daniel, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California, Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt5245b5kx, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    5. Gakenheimer, Ralph, 1999. "Urban mobility in the developing world," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 671-689.
    6. Bento, Antonio M. & Cropper, Maureen L. & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Vinha, Katja, 2003. "The impact of urban spatial structure on travel demand in the United States," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3007, The World Bank.
    7. Handy, Susan & Cao, Xinyu & Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 2005. "Correlation or causality between the built environment and travel behavior? Evidence from Northern California," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt5b76c5kg, University of California Transportation Center.
    8. Farrell, Alexander E. & Sperling, Daniel & Arons, S.M. & Brandt, A.R. & Delucchi, M.A. & Eggert, A. & Farrell, A.E. & Haya, B.K. & Hughes, J. & Jenkins, B.M. & Jones, A.D. & Kammen, D.M. & Kaffka, S.R, 2007. "A Low-Carbon Fuel Standard for California Part 1: Technical Analysis," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt8zm8d3wj, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
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