Sunday, January 2, 2011

World Carbon Emissions Are Possibly At or Near Peak Levels And Will Start Declining Soon

From "A Road Less Traveled: Passenger travel in the industrialized world has been stagnant for nearly a decade, researchers say" by Melinda Burns:
“A major factor behind increasing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions since the 1970s has ceased its rise, at least for the time being,” Schipper said. “If it is a truly permanent change, then future projections of carbon dioxide emissions and fuel demand should be scaled back.”

The peak travel study runs counter to government models predicting steady growth in travel demand well beyond 2030. Schipper and Millard-Ball say that their own findings are “suggestive rather than conclusive.” They speculate that highway gridlock, parking problems, high prices at the gas pump and an aging population that doesn’t commute may be contributing to peak travel. People already spend an average 1.1 hours per day traveling from one place to another, and driving speeds can’t get much faster.
The above article is based on the research paper, "Are We Reaching Peak Travel? Trends in Passenger Transport in Eight Industrialized Countries" by Adam Millard-Balla, Lee Schipper.

Below is the abstract of that paper:
Projections of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for industrialized countries typically show continued growth in vehicle ownership, vehicle use and overall travel demand. This growth represents a continuation of trends from the 1970s through the early 2000s. This paper presents a descriptive analysis of cross-national passenger transport trends in eight industrialized countries, providing evidence to suggest that these trends may have halted. Through decomposing passenger transport energy use into activity, modal structure and modal energy intensity, we show that increases in total activity (passenger travel) have been the driving force behind increased energy use, offset somewhat by declining energy intensity. We show that total activity growth has halted relative to GDP in recent years in the eight countries examined. If these trends continue, it is possible that an accelerated decline in the energy intensity of car travel; stagnation in total travel per capita; some shifts back to rail and bus modes; and at least somewhat less carbon per unit of energy could leave the absolute levels of emissions in 2020 or 2030 lower than today. [Emphasis added].
The reduction in future carbon emissions is projected and expected to occur without further legislation or additional government programs of carbon emission limits, a carbon tax or a carbon cap and trade system.

1 comment :

  1. Just waiting for for emissions to decline won't do. The climate panel of National Academy of Sciences concluded in 2010 that a system to price CO2 emissions is the first priority to avoid catastrophic climate disruption.

    Dr. Schipper (co-author of the study you cite) has supported a carbon tax for a decades. See "Energy efficiency and human activity: past trends, future prospects" By Lee Schipper, Stephen Meyers, Stockholm Environment Institute (1992).