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  • WashPIRG Foundation 1

    Elizabeth RidlingtonTony DutzikJessyn Schor

    March 2005

    WashPIRG Foundation

    Cars andGlobal Warming

    Policy Options to ReduceWashingtons Global Warming Pollution

    from Cars and Light Trucks

  • 2 Cars and Global Warming

    The authors wish to acknowledge Patrick Mazza of Climate Solutions and ClarkWilliams-Derry of Northwest Environment Watch for providing editorial review.

    Sincere thanks to the Energy Foundation for providing financial support for thisproject.

    The authors alone bear responsibility for any factual errors. The recommendationsare those of the Washington Public Interest Research Group Foundation. The viewsexpressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect theviews of those who provided editorial or technical review.

    2005 WashPIRG Foundation

    The Washington Public Interest Research Group (WashPIRG) Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to protecting the environment,the rights of consumers, and good government in Washington.

    For additional copies of this report, send $10 (including shipping) to:

    WashPIRG Foundation3240 Eastlake Ave E, Suite 100Seattle, WA 98102

    For more information about WashPIRG and the WashPIRG Foundation, please con-tact our office at 206-568-2850 or visit the WashPIRG Web site at

    Cover photo: Sandy Ridlington

    Design: Kathleen Krushas, To the Point Publications


  • WashPIRG Foundation 3


    Executive Summary 4

    Introduction 6

    Global Warming and Washington 7

    Causes of Global Warming 7

    Potential Impacts of Global Warming 7

    Global Warming Pollution in Washington 8

    Washingtons Climate Change Reduction Efforts 9

    The Transportation Challenge 10

    Vehicle Carbon Dioxide Pollution in Washington: Past and Future 14

    Tools to Reduce Global Warming Pollutionfrom Cars and Light Trucks 16

    LEV II Program 16

    Vehicle Global Warming Pollution Standards 20

    The Need for Additional Actions 21

    Policy Findings 23

    Assumptions and Methodology 24

    Notes 29

  • 4 Cars and Global Warming


    Washington could significantlylimit its contribution to global warming over the nexttwo decades by adopting the Clean Carsprogram to reduce carbon dioxide emis-sions from cars and light trucks.

    Global warming poses a serious threatto Washingtons future. Scientists projectthat average temperatures in Washing-ton could increase by 2 to 9 F over thenext century if no action is taken to re-duce emissions of global warming pol-lutionpotentially leading to coastalflooding, significantly decreased snow-pack, increased air pollution and heat-related deaths, and a host of otherimpacts on Washingtons environment,public health and economy (p. 7).

    Controlling global warming pollutionfrom the transportation sectorand par-ticularly cars and light truckswill bean essential part of Washingtons strat-egy for reducing global warming emis-sions.

    The transportation sector is respon-sible for 52 percent of Washingtons re-leases of carbon dioxidethe leadingglobal warming gas. Cars and lighttruckssuch as pickups, minivans andSUVsare the most important sourcesof global warming pollution in the trans-portation sector, responsible for nearlyhalf of all transportation sector emissionsand about one-fifth of Washingtons to-tal emissions of global warming pollu-tion (p. 9).

    Carbon dioxide pollution from carsand light trucks in Washington is likelyto increase by approximately 55 percentover 1990 levels by 2020 unless actionis taken to reduce emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from the

    Washington light-duty vehicle fleet areprojected to experience a 13 percent

    increase over 2000 levels by 2010, fol-lowed by a further 17 percent increasebetween 2010 and 2020 (p. 13-14).

    The stagnation in federal corporateaverage fuel economy (CAFE) stan-dards for cars and light trucks, therecent shift toward greater use of lessfuel-efficient light trucks, includingSUVs, and increasing vehicle travelhave put Washington on a course to-ward dramatically increased emissionsof carbon dioxide from transportationover the next two decades.

    Adopting the Clean Cars programwith its Low-Emission Vehicle (LEV II)program and the vehicle global warm-ing pollution standardswould be animportant step to reducing greenhousegas pollution from cars and trucks. The LEV II program will pave the way

    for the widespread introduction ofclean, advanced technology vehicles(such as hybrid-electric vehicles) thatcould result in dramatic, long-term re-ductions in carbon emissions. In theprocess, it will lead to light-duty car-bon dioxide emission reductions ofabout 1.3 percent below projected lev-els by 2020 (p. 19).

    Vehicle global warming pollutionstandards (also known as the Pavleystandards for their original legislativesponsor in California) could producesignificant reductions in vehicle car-bon dioxide emissions as cars areequipped with direct-injection engines,advanced transmissions, improved airconditioning systems, and other ad-vanced technologies. These improve-ments could reduce emissions fromnew cars by 30 percent by 2016. IfWashington were to implement theprogram beginning in 2008 (when

  • WashPIRG Foundation 5

    model year 2009 vehicles go on sale),it could reduce carbon dioxide pollu-tion from the car and light truck fleetby about 12 percent below projectedlevels by 2020. Savings will continueto increase in later years as older ve-hicles are replaced with ones that com-ply with the new emissions standard(p. 20-21).

    Increased equipment costs will be off-set by reduced operating costs so thatthe purchaser of a new car is projectedto save $3 per month in 2016 whenthe standards are fully phased in. Buy-ers of light trucks will save even more(p. 21).

    Even with implementation of bothcomponents of the Clean Cars pro-gram, carbon dioxide emissions from

    cars and light trucks in 2020 wouldbe significantly higher than pollutionin 2000 because of a large projectedincrease in vehicle travel. Thus, Wash-ington will need to adopt additionalpolicies to reduce emissions from thetransportation sector if it wishes tostabilize and reduce global warmingpollution (p. 21).Washington should move quickly to

    adopt policies that will stabilize, and ul-timately reduce, emissions of carbon di-oxide from cars and light trucks. Washington should adopt the Clean

    Car standards as a first step to reduc-ing emissions of carbon dioxide.

    The state should also commit to imple-menting these standards in 2005 sothat they will take effect as soon aspossible, which is in model year 2009.

    Figure ES-1. Estimated Washington Carbon Dioxide Emissions fromCars and Light Trucks, 2000-2020, Under Policy Scenarios
































    n D






    s (M









    n D







    Base Case Projection

    LEV II Program

    LEV II and Global WarmingPollution Standards

  • 6 Cars and Global Warming


    Global warming and its conse-quences will changeWashingtons environment andeconomy. Warmer temperatures maylead to earlier snowmelts and decreasedsnowpack, increased summer drought,shifts in forest cover, higher sea levels,and myriad other effects.

    Addressing emissions of global warm-ing gases from the transportation sectoris Washingtons biggest challenge tomeeting its emission reduction goals, notonly because transportation is the larg-est source of the states global warmingpollution but also because emissionsfrom the transportation sector may be-come a larger share of total pollution incoming years.

    The technology exists to reduce emis-sions from transportation, and particu-larly cars and light trucks, the largestsource of transportation emissions. Thetools to make less-polluting cars andtrucks already exist, and can be imple-mented at little costor even a net eco-nomic benefitto most consumers.Meanwhile, a host of newer technolo-giesranging from hybrid-electric carsto fuel-cell vehicles that operate on hy-drogencould play an important role inreducing the states pollution in the longterm.

    A transportation policy Washingtoncould adopt is the Clean Cars program,which has two components: the LEV II

    program and vehicle emission standardsfor global warming gases.

    The LEV II program, which originatedin California but has been adopted byother states including New York, NewJersey and Massachusetts, would requirethat a percentage of vehicles sold inWashington in coming years be ad-vanced-technology vehicles such as hy-brids, which have lower global warmingemissions.

    Vehicle global warming pollution stan-dards, which also originated in Califor-nia, would require automakers to reduceemissions of global warming pollutantsby incorporating direct-injection engines,continuously variable transmissions,improved air conditioners, and otheradvanced technologies into new vehicles.These standards will lead to even greaterprogress toward realizing the promise ofnew technologies to reduce the impactof our transportation system on the cli-mate.

    This report documents the benefitWashington may receive from adoptingthe Clean Cars program. But it also docu-ments th


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