Shannon Wulf Tregar:
Recently, the US Environmental Protection Agency projected that low gas prices will continue to encourage people to buy larger vehicles, and that new vehicle fuel economy won’t rise as quickly as it initially thought. On top of that, after slowing down in the 2000s, the amount people drive appears to be ticking up again, raising total oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and renewing calls for a carbon tax.
In fact, driving (as measured by miles traveled) will increase at nearly historical rates over the next decade, causing substantially higher oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, according to new research by RFF’s Benjamin Leard, Joshua Linn, and Clayton Munnings. They find that “changes in the demographic and economic characteristics of households in the United States, rather than changes in driving habits, explain most of the recent dynamics.”
From the "Key Findings":
- Over the next decade, miles traveled will increase nearly at historical rates, causing substantially higher oil consumption and GHG emissions than if persistent changes in household driving habits explained the recent changes in VMT.
- Our predicted growth rate implies that future oil consumption and GHG emissions will be about 10 percent higher than if VMT were to remain at 2015 levels, increasing the challenge of meeting the US international pledge to reduce GHGs.
One word: gas tax.