Leading transportation researchers and forecasts are showing technology developments, including the deployment of automated—“self-driving”—vehicles could have a significant impact on transportation energy use and emissions. Whether this results in a dramatic increase or decrease in emissions may be highly dependent on the public transportation infrastructure used by these vehicles and whether automated vehicles are zero-emitting electric vehicles providing pooled rides, or fossil fuel-burning cars traveling longer distances. Policymakers across federal, state, and local governments have opportunities to shape these trends through policy and incentives that help bring about environmental and economic benefits. Below are highlights of the Georgetown Climate Center's work in this area.
Automation, Electrification, and Shared Use: Reducing Emissions from Three Transportation “Revolutions”
There may be an enormous opportunity to align the emerging technology trends of vehicle electrification, automation, and shared use to achieve emissions reductions and other social benefits. However, most analyses point to the need for strong public policies to ensure that deployment of autonomous vehicles yields a reduction in vehicle emissions and an increase in mobility options, rather than an increase in congestion, vehicle miles traveled, fuel use, and emissions.
Future of the Interstate Highway
Georgetown Climate Center Executive Director Vicki Arroyo serves as the Vice Chair of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee and also serves as the Chair of the Resilience and Sustainability Task Force and on a committee charged with a Study of the Future Interstate Highway System. The Study of the Future Interstate Highway System is a Congressionally mandated study that is being produced by TRB and is developing recommendations on actions needed to restore and improve the Interstate Highway System to meet the growing and shifting demands of the 21st century.