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The effect of uncertainty on US transport-related GHG emissions and fuel consumption out to 2050

  • Bastani, Parisa
  • Heywood, John B.
  • Hope, Chris

The future of US transport energy requirements and emissions is uncertain. Transport policy research has explored a number of scenarios to better understand the future characteristics of US light-duty vehicles. Deterministic scenario analysis is, however, unable to identify the impact of uncertainty on the future US vehicle fleet emissions and energy use. Variables determining the future fleet emissions and fuel use are inherently uncertain and thus the shortfall in understanding the impact of uncertainty on the future of US transport needs to be addressed. This paper uses a stochastic technology and fleet assessment model to quantify the uncertainties in US vehicle fleet emissions and fuel use for a realistic yet ambitious pathway which results in about a 50% reduction in fleet GHG emissions in 2050. The results show the probability distribution of fleet emissions, fuel use, and energy consumption over time out to 2050. The expected value for the fleet fuel consumption is about 450 and 350 billion litres of gasoline equivalent with standard deviations of 40 and 80 in 2030 and 2050, respectively. The expected value for the fleet GHG emissions is about 1360 and 850Mt CO2 equivalent with standard deviation of 130 and 230 in 2030 and 2050 respectively. The parameters that are major contributors to variations in emissions and fuel consumption are also identified and ranked through the uncertainty analysis. It is further shown that these major contributors change over time, and include parameters such as: vehicle scrappage rate, annual growth of vehicle kilometres travelled in the near term, total vehicle sales, fuel economy of the dominant naturally-aspirated spark ignition vehicles, and percentage of gasoline displaced by cellulosic ethanol. The findings in this paper demonstrate the importance of taking uncertainties into consideration when choosing amongst alternative fuel and emissions reduction pathways, in the light of their possible consequences.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice.

Volume (Year): 46 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 517-548

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Handle: RePEc:eee:transa:v:46:y:2012:i:3:p:517-548
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