carbon tax

The Economist: Global Car Fleet Growth Requires Electrification

Blogging from Kabul, Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton is struck by how the post-Taliban proliferation of private vehicles has boosted smog and air pollution, threatening public health. Now picture the possibilities in places such as China and India, where rapidly multiplying populations are enjoying new opportunities and car ownership is seen as an important step on the economic ladder. The small, affordable, fuel-sipping Tata Nano is a success story in India, yet The New Delhi-based Center for Science and the Environment recently warned of carbon emission risks posed by a growing percentage of bigger vehicles in the nation’s fleet, combined with a failure to set fuel economy standards. (Open Microsoft Word doc. after clicking here). The Times of India confirms the sport utility vehicle market there is heating up. In addition to the tiny Nano, Tata Motors, India’s largest auto manufacturer, makes many types of mid-sized and larger rides, including SUVs such as the Safari Dicor, the Sumo Victa, the Sumo Grande and the Xenon XT pick-up (pictured, right). Plus commercial trucks, now enjoying a sales boom in India. The “50 By 50 Global Fuel Economy Initiative” report highlights a projected tripling of the world’s light vehicle fleet by 2050, with 80 percent of that growth occurring in rapidly developing countries.
The report concludes that improving the average fuel economy of the global car fleet 50 percent by that year will “mainly involve incremental change to conventional internal combustion engines and drive systems, along with weight reduction and better aerodynamics.” Important aims to be sure, but “50 By 50” unfortunately consigns the eventual wide adoption of green vehicles such as plug-in hybrids and all-electrics to “icing on the cake” status, and largely sidesteps environmentally beneficial congestion reduction measures. In contrast, The Economist’s approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from a growing global fleet of light vehicles starts with a strong call for a carbon tax calibrated to vehicle type, and includes other economic incentives and electrification.

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A Stimulus For States and Regions To Own Surface Transportation

The much-hyped federal economic stimulus package isn’t looking like it will do all that much for surface transportation. The New York Times reports that the House stimulus bill contains a scant $30 billion for roads and bridges and $10 billion for transit. Turns out most of the infrastructure spending in the bill is not for surface transportation. The new administration has weighed in, supporting the bill. Washington State would get $530 million for highways, roads and bridges and $216 million for transit from the bill, according to D.C. correspondent Les Blumenthal. To put that in context, we have about $38 billion in unmet transportation funding needs, as shown on p. 5 of this overview from the Washington State Transportation Commission. Read More ›