Posts tagged “CAFE”
What Can Obama Do?
The President has begun his second term in office by saying that he will act on climate change, stating in his inaugural address: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
However, the question now becomes: what can President Obama do about climate change? He made action on climate change a central argument during his 2008 campaign and early in his first term, but failed in the effort to pass major emissions reduction legislation through Congress. While the stimulus had many important clean energy sections, it is unclear whether these will result in lasting changes in our economy.
Market-Based Actions Are Most Effective
Having tried and failed to pass major climate legislation through Congress in 2009 and 2010, and knowing that a polarized Congress is unlikely to address this again in the next few years, I believe that the Administration will move towards a two-pronged approach that uses regulation at home, but prioritizes action on climate as a tool of international relations.
(Read More: Why Climate Change is a Matter of National Security)
MIT Professor Christopher Knittel has a new paper on the potential for the United States to reduce petroleum consumption.
From the paper’s abstract:
The United States consumed more petroleum-based liquid fuel per capita than any other OECD-high-income country– 30 percent more than the second-highest country (Canada) and 40 percent more than the third-highest (Luxemburg). This paper examines the main channels through which reductions in U.S. oil consumption might take place: (a) increased fuel economy of existing vehicles, (b) increased use of non-petroleum-based low-carbon fuels, (c) alternatives to the internal combustion engine, and (d) reduced vehicles miles traveled. I then discuss how the policies for reducing petroleum consumption used in the US compare with the standard economics prescription for using a Pigouvian tax to deal with externalities. Taking into account that energy taxes are a political hot button in the United States, and also considering some evidence that consumers may not correctly value fuel economy, I offer some thoughts about the margins on which policy aimed at reducing petroleum consumption would have the largest impact on economic efficiency.
Knittel begins by noting that fuel taxes differ tremendously across OECD countries.
And these differences in taxes are associated with huge differences in per capita consumption. The graph below shows a pretty strong correlation: countries with lower fuel prices have higher fuel consumption. The slope of the fitted curve raises the possibility that, given time, long-run responses to higher gasoline prices could be substantially stronger than time-series correlations might suggest.
After I wrote The Problem with CAFE a couple of years ago, a lot of people concluded that I am against higher CAFE standards. That’s not exactly the case. In a nutshell, my problem with CAFE is that I feel like it addresses the problem from the wrong side of the equation. In light of the new announcements on stricter CAFE standards, this might be a good time to review the issue. First, the new policy: Stricter mpg rules may be boon for automakers By issuing rules aimed at sharply boosting vehicle gasoline mileage and slashing greenhouse gas emissions, experts say the Obama plan is just what carmakers need given the prospect of higher gas prices and worries about global… Continue»
Looks like people are beginning to respond to high gas prices: Toyota Prius sales pass Ford Explorer Americans bought more Toyota Prius hybrid gas-electric hatchbacks last year than Ford Explorer sport-utility vehicles, the top-selling SUV for more than a decade. The change of fortune, buried in U.S. vehicle-sales data for 2007 and unthinkable a few years ago, will find an echo at this year’s Detroit auto show, which starts Sunday. While Americans’ love for powerful gas guzzlers remains strong, a slowing economy and high gasoline prices are forcing buyers to lower their sights. While Prius sales soared 69% last year, demand for the Explorer was less than a third of its 2000 peak. As I have said before, we have… Continue»
I am in Norway at the moment, but I ran across a story that I wanted to call attention to. It is the same thing I wrote about in The Problem with CAFE: Debunking auto industry myths NEW YORK (Fortune) — I hesitate to pick a fight with a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner like New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. On the critical issue of developing a national energy policy to lessen our consumption of imported oil, he’s been early, smart, and right. But Friedman whiffed in his Times column yesterday, called “Et Tu, Toyota,” by hauling out one of the hoariest of urban myths: That forcing higher fuel economy standards on American car buyers is what’s needed to encourage more… Continue»
Over the weekend, I happened onto a link for a German car that is being designed for an amazing 157 miles per gallon (1.5 l/100 km). The car is called the Loremo, an ultra-light, two-cylinder, 20-horsepower, turbo-diesel with an price tag of about $15,000 U.S. The Ultra-Light Loremo After poking around a bit, I found that there is a history of ultra-light vehicles, but they have not sold well: Driving On The Light Side In 1999, German carmaker Volkswagen launched the Lupo 3L TDI in Europe, a no-frills subcompact that got 100 km on 3 L of gas. Volkswagen built 29,500 Lupo 3Ls and then last year yanked the car from the market. “It was too frugal,” says Hartmut Hoffmann,… Continue»
Update Four essays, plus this one, finished off today: The Problem With Biobutanol This Week in Petroleum 6-13-07 Letter to CNN on Inaccuracies in “We Were Warned” The Problem with CAFE With that, I am on hiatus. I may come back and update TWIP on Thursday. Cheers, Robert Taking a Break I received a welcome surprise yesterday, and found out that I get to fly home this Friday to see my family. I have been away from them for 5 months (so the kids could finish out school) but on Friday I go home to retrieve them for their move to Scotland. Thus ends the most difficult 5-month period of my life. At that time, two things will happen. First,… Continue»
As I have been reading reports of the current debate over the pending energy legislation, it occurred to me that there is a fundamental problem with the approach to CAFE standards. The Washington Post reported on the issue in today’s edition: Senate, House Turn Focus to Energy Bills Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said after a speech to the Center for American Progress yesterday that the increase in auto-fuel efficiency requirements, known as the corporate average fuel efficiency (CAFE) standards, would be the most controversial part of the Senate package. It orders auto companies to hit a 35-mile-per-gallon target by 2020 and improve mileage 4 percent a year after that. “I know that the auto industry is still… Continue»
I don’t think you would want to take it out on the interstate, but it’s pretty cool to see people working on stuff like this. $2,500 DIY Cars Tired of high gas prices? For $2,500 and 1,000 hours, you can build a car that gets 100 miles to the gallon. In a world where the price of oil is trending towards infinity, large companies are quickly seeking alternative energy sources for transportation. Jory Squibb decided he’d build his own fuel-miser, and set about creating it from second-hand motorcycle parts. The resultant vehicle, christened MOONBEAM, gets 80-85 mpg around town and under economy run conditions (max 40 mph) delivers 105 mpg. Two scooters for the bits cost US $500, and the… Continue»
The ethanol bubble has been bursting a bit lately. I don’t say that with glee, because I hate to see people lose money, especially when it was due largely to misleading claims. (I say that even though 95% of the hate mail I get comes from ethanol investors). I hope the end of the irrational exuberance we have seen in the ethanol market will lead to a more fact-based look at which technologies are needed to replace or supplement fossil fuels, and what technical challenges must be overcome before that happens. There are certain things we can do to help ethanol along that I completely agree with. Because of the great potential, I think we need to heavily fund cellulosic… Continue»