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Global action needed now to promote greater fuel efficiency

We face a massive challenge to address the issue of man-made climate change, and in particular, the role which transport plays within that. With a global car fleet predicted to triple by 2050 - over 80% of that in the developing world - and now, with a global economy facing huge difficulties, we have to find a way to reconcile legitimate aspirations for mobility, an ambitious reduction in CO2 from cars worldwide, and global economic recovery.

If the projected world population of 9 billion people in 2050 lived the way Americans do today….

  • There would be 7.6 Billion motor vehicles on the roads
  • Transportation alone would consume 440 million barrels of oil per day
    – Total world oil production today is 82 million barrels/day
  • CO2 emissions from transportation alone would be 62 billion metric tons/year
    – Total world emissions from fossil fuels today: 28 billion tons CO2/year
  • The current Western model of development and transportation cannot scale to a world of 9 billion who live the way we do
    – Efficiency improvements are necessary but not sufficient
    – New technologies are necessary but not sufficient
    – We must behave differently and think about the problem differently

(Source: From a Transportation@MIT seminar by Cynthia Barnhart

We believe that a move across the global fleet towards far better fuel economy at a scale which is already technically achievable, could save over 6 billion barrels of oil per year by 2050, and close to half of CO2 emissions from cars, as well as generate significant local air pollution benefits - and all using existing, cost-effective technologies. This is simply too good to ignore.

We want to:

  • promote further research, discussion and action to improve fuel economy worldwide
  • work with Governments in developing policies to encourage fuel economy improvement for vehicles produced or sold in their countries
  • support regional awareness initiatives that provide consumers and decision makers with the information they need to make informed choices.

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The report by George C. Eads was presented at the TRB Annual Meeting in Washington DC.