By John Addison (updated 12/3/09, original 11/24/09)
For the fifth consecutive year, EPA is reporting an increase in fuel efficiency with a corresponding decrease in average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for new cars and light duty trucks. Average CO2 emissions have decreased by 39 grams per mile, or 8 percent, and average fuel economy has increased by 1.8 mpg, or 9 percent, since 2004.
“American drivers are increasingly looking for cars that burn cleaner, burn less gas and won’t burn a hole in their wallets,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “We’re working to help accelerate this trend with strong investments in clean energy technology – particularly for the cars and trucks that account for almost 60 percent of greenhouse gases from transportation sources. Cleaner, more efficient vehicles can help reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, cut harmful pollution, and save people money — and it’s clear that’s what the American car buyer wants.”
Progress surprisingly slowed during the recession. For 2008, the last year for which EPA has final data from automakers, the average fuel economy value was 21.0 miles per gallon (mpg). EPA projects a small improvement in 2009, based on pre-model year sales estimates provided to EPA by automakers, to 21.1 mpg. When the tax payers handed GM and Chrysler $70 billion weren’t we promised more progress than that?
The 10 Best 2010 Hybrids achieve 30 to 50 miles per gallon.
The EPA report confirms that average CO2 emissions have decreased and fuel economy has increased each year beginning in 2005. This positive trend beginning in 2005 reverses a long period of increasing CO2 emissions and decreasing fuel economy from 1987 through 2004, and returns CO2 emissions and fuel economy to levels of the early 1980s.
While the Senate debates if it is possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 17 percent by 2020 from the 2005 level, Americans already have us half the way there when it comes to transportation. Americans are cutting car use with flexwork, car pooling, and transit. Gas guzzlers are being replaced with fuel misers and even electric cars.
In addition, new buildings use much less electricity and heat due to better insulation, HVAC systems, and even LED lighting. Emissions will really dip if we stop subsidizing oil and coal, and put a price on carbon emissions.