Research Area - Low carbon transportation

In the United States, the transportation sector is responsible for more than a quarter of GHG emissions — the largest share among all sectors. Various strategies are being pursued including increasing networks of public transportation, changing zoning laws and building denser housing, and building bike paths and pedestrian infrastructure. But the major strategy for decarbonization is electrifying transportation (even though it doesn’t address issues such as congestion and road accidents). That’s why, understanding the charging patterns of electric vehicles (EV) is essential for planning and operating future low-carbon electricity systems. 


GHG emissions typically reported under the transportation sector include only tailpipe emissions (emissions from burning fuel directly in cars, trucks, and airplanes) and not those from oil extraction and refining. In California, which is the seventh largest oil producer state in the U.S., oil and gas extraction and refining accounted for 11% of the state’s GHG emissions in 2019. Including these emissions in the transportation sector makes this sector responsible for more than half of California’s GHG emissions. 


Hence, at the same time as we strive to decarbonize the demand side of the transportation sector, we need to plan for and facilitate the decarbonization of the supply side of this sector. The United States is the largest producer of oil and natural gas in the world and reducing GHG emissions from extraction and refining has significant implications on labor markets, health benefits, and tax revenues. What policies and strategies are the most effective in drawing down the oil and gas extraction and refining production? What pathways can minimize labor impacts and maximize health benefits from reducing air pollution exposure, especially in disadvantaged communities? We model these energy transitions and collaborate with economists and public health scholars to answer these questions. 


Carbon Neutrality of California’s Transportation Supply Sector