School of Natural Resources and Environment
John M. DeCicco
Senior Lecturer, University of Michigan
Carlist was at an event held by BMW Corporation, where DeCicco talked about CO2 emissions. DeCicco talked about CO2 and had some great slides to illustrate the importance of decreasing CO2 emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2005, about 3/4 of the projected increase in global oil demand comes from transportation. China and India are increasing their CO2 emissions the fastest, but the United States still leads in the output of CO2.
Globally, light-duty vehicles and cars only make up ten percent of the carbon emissions. A paltry sum when you know that forty-eight percent of the global emissions are created by electricity and heat production. But of that ten percent, the United States creates forty-five percent of the emissions. Therein lies the reason BMW held the symposium: to show what they were doing to cut CO2 emissions.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that, in 2007, transportation accounted for sixty percent of U.S. petroleum usage.
One slide DeCicco showed, derived from COT, DOE and EPA statistics, was that since 1970 the number of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) has gone way up, but the air pollution has gone down. Not just pollution from cars, but air pollution in total. Oil and CO2 have been stabilized since the oil crisis era, around the late ’70s. They are climbing, however.
DeCicco has devised a formula he calls the carbon management metric. The formula assumes that there is an operational life of 180,000 miles per car and that each car is driven 12,000 miles and gets 20 mpg, is responsible for 5.28 metric tons per year of CO2.
So what does that mean for car buyers? We know that the more miles one gets per gallon the more miles one drive. Fuel, over the years, has not changed much in carbon density. That means that vehicles and the technology used will have to get better.
Which carmakers are decreasing their CO2 emissions?
From 1990-2005 BMW decreased its CO2 burden by twelve percent, while Toyota, second in reduction, decreased its CO2 burden by three percent over the same time period. How?
BMW’s reduction was twofold: The success of the Mini Cooper and efficiencies in key models. According to BMW, they have continued to improve: one percent for cars, and seven percent for light trucks from 2005-2008.
While BMW was going smaller Toyota was going bigger. Toyota’s cars had a fourteen percent efficiency gain. One would think that was because of the Prius, but DeCicco says it was because of the Corolla. This makes sense: if Toyota makes Corollas more efficient, and they sell a lot more Corollas than they do Prius’, the efficiency is going to get better.
Toyota saw an efficiency improvement in their trucks, but the production of trucks brought down the entire fleet efficiency numbers.
DeCicco makes the point that the internal combustion engine is not going to go away. Since gasoline usage is directly related to CO2 emissions automobile companies are being told they have to increase their miles per gallon.
DeCicco talks about what options lay ahead for auto efficiency and fuel efficiency. DeCicco compares gasoline and electricity, using the Mini Cooper.
We still don’t have an energy policy. We are on the verge of bringing out advanced technology electric cars and we still have not had a group of consumers, automakers, utility companies, and policymakers sit down and draft energy policy.
Coal-fired plants that produce electricity are the second biggest CO2 emitters and as the United States pushes for electric cars there will be an even bigger push to switch off of coal as a means for electricity.
We won’t be able to decrease our CO2 if we don’t have a plan.
Watch excerpts from DeCicco’s lecture here: