MIT Energy Initiative
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An Action Plan for Cars

The Policies Needed to Reduce U.S. Petroleum Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Published: April 2010

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Reducing petroleum consumption and GHG emissions from cars and light?duty trucks in the United States over the next several decades requires that we implement a clear and coordinated set of policies now. This report describes a portfolio of policies which, in the view of the authors, is needed to put personal vehicle transportation on the road to sustainability in the longer term. To incentivize adoption of more fuel efficient vehicles, we propose coupling existing near?term fuel economy standards with a feebate incentive program and gradual increases in fuel taxes. We further propose driver education initiatives that would give vehicle owners information on how to maximize fuel savings in their purchase and driving decisions. Finally, we underscore the need for a long?term strategy for fuels that evaluates fuels?related programs based on their contribution to reducing life?cycle petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Together, these policies offer a robust plan of action that will focus and streamline current efforts to achieve these two important national goals. Perhaps most importantly, this plan lays a much?needed foundation for a comprehensive, adaptable long?term policy effort. A more detailed summary of the recommended set of policy measures can be found in Section 2.

Authors:

  • John Heywood Sun Jae Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT
  • Patricia Baptista Ph.D. student, MIT Portugal Program at Instituto Superior Tcnico in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • Irene Berry Student, Mechanical Engineering and the Technology and Policy Program at MIT.
  • Kandarp Bhatt Student, System Design and Management program at MIT
  • Lynette Cheah Ph.D. candidate in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT
  • Fernando de Sisternes Student in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT
  • Valerie Karplus Ph.D. candidate in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT
  • David Keith Ph.D. student in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT
  • Michael Khusid Student in the System Design and Management program at MIT
  • Donald MacKenzie Ph.D. student in the Engineering Systems Division at MIT
  • Jeff McAulay Graduate, M.S. degree in the Technology and Policy Program at MIT

MITEI Authors