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NEW YORK: The latest outlook on US greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction by the Rhodium Group says the country is on track to reduce emissions 20-22 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and 20-26 percent by the end of the decade.

Depending on the pace of US post-pandemic economic recovery, the 2030 reduction figure could vary between 17-30 percent. The Biden Administration says it wants to reduce US emissions 50-52 percent by 2030.

Rhodium expects transportation emissions “to decline modestly” during this decade, driven by fuel economy improvements in passenger vehicles and a shift toward electric vehicles (EVs).

Assuming the most optimistic outlook for declining EV battery costs combined with high oil prices—which would increase the EV share of total new passenger vehicle sales to 35 percent by 2030—transportation emissions fall by 23 percent.

However more moderate EV battery cost reductions coupled with low oil prices will lead to EVs capturing just 9.0 percent of the market as overall transportation emissions fall 18 percent from 2005 levels by the end of the decade.

Rhodium notes greater emission reductions are likely to be constrained by continued consumer preference for larger, higher-emitting SUVs coupled with “robust demand growth for freight and air travel”. At the same time, a stronger rise in natural gas and oil prices could drive emissions up 25 percent from current levels by 2030, it adds.

To ensure gasoline-powered vehicles remain a strong lifestyle choice, the industry’s main lobby group, the American Petroleum Institute, claims the Biden Administration’s effort to reduce the economic dependence on fossil fuel could “limit Americans’ transportation choice [and] leave everyday drivers high and dry”.

According to CEO Mike Sommers, “we should be careful to avoid government interventions that disrupt the marketplace, limit consumer choice and produce unintended results.”

As represented by Sommers, API claims fossil-fuel powered internal combustion engines are capable of achieving “comparable reductions in GHG emissions as similarly equipped, full battery electric vehicles when the full lifecycle of a vehicle and its energy source is taken into account" -including GHG emissions during fuel production, manufacturing, operation and disposal stages.

API was founded in 1919 and receives a reported US$240 million a year from the fossil fuel industry to support its government lobbying activities. Now 26 US cities and states have responded by suing oil and gas companies, claiming they have misled consumers about their role in the climate crisis.
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