President Obama yesterday announced a new federal plan toto cut new vehicle carbon emissions and raise mileage by 30 percent. The new requirement is estimated to cost consumers an extra $1,300 per vehicle starting in 2016, or $700 on top of the expected $600 from previous standards’ increases. Fuel savings, using today’s dollars per gallon, would make up that increased cost in just a few years. If gas prices increase in the next 7 years (a virtual certainty), the increased cost will be offset that much quicker (which unsurprisingly was not in any media reports that I’ve seen or read).
What do the more aggressive targets really mean? It’s being estimated that 900 million tons of CO2 won’t be emitted. That would help (if even only a little) keep our total CO2 emissions under 1 Trillion tons, as several researchers are now saying we need to stay under to prevent catastrophic climate change. Every billion tons not emitted is a little more buffer we give ourselves, which is important because the 1Trillion ton metric is relatively new and not very robust. It could be significantly lower.
Cars will be required to get an average of 39mpg starting in 2016, up from today’s 27.5mpg standard. The good news is the current operational average is 32.6mpg. I think an addional 6.4mpg in seven years is easily doable. Kudos to the Obama administration for orchestrating this rule. A lot of disparate interests were brought together to make this work. That couldn’t have been done with the previous administration.