Dr. Sened is a Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and former chair of the Political Science Department at Washington University. His main interests are comparative theory of institutions, game theory and mathematical modeling. Dr. Sened teaches Undergraduate and Graduate level courses in the Political Science Department.
We have some good news to report. According to a recently released EPA report (p. 7): “CO2 emission rates have decreased by 10 percent and fuel economy values have increased by 11 percent from MY 2006-2011. Based on preliminary estimates, CO2 emission rates have decreased by 13 percent and fuel economy values have increased by 16 percent from MY 2007-2012.” We think it is important to appreciate that environmental policy coupled with the right attitude of the private sector can make all of us better off and, as a by product, save the planet. We believe that this is just one important example of a number of such policies that need to get more attention from all of us in this debate.
A piece of really good news seems to have escaped many. It attracted little media attention and was reported as an addendum to the news if at all. The little attention it got is a reflection of the broader problem of reducing the emission of CO2 and other pollutants by moving to cleaner energy and other emission reduction strategies – no one seems to care. Or at least very few seem to care. Part of what we are trying to do here is to open up the debate but also explain why should we all care.
This important piece of news is of a particular interest here because it is not directly related to clean energy and yet has been very effective in reducing the emission of dangerous pollutants.
So let’s go to the news’ desk. An annual report of the EPA appears under the cumbersome title of “Light-Duty Automotive Technology, Carbon Dioxide Emissions, and Fuel Economy Trends 1975 Through 2012” and can be reviewed at this website: http://www.epa.gov/fueleconomy/fetrends/1975-2012/420r13001.pdf
In this report the main finding is of the essence and is of the most interest for us here. It is summarized in two graphs that we reproduce below.
The graphs very much speak for themselves. They show a sharp increase in the MPG that started sometime around 2005 and continues to this day. An important consequence of this statistic is that we all pay a lot less for driving the same distances. This is good news regardless of what one thinks of our environmental issues. This piece of good news turns out to have a very significant effect on CO2 emissions. According to the report the EPA report (p. 7): “CO2 emission rates have decreased by 10 percent and fuel economy values have increased by 11 percent from MY 2006-2011. Based on preliminary estimates, CO2 emission rates have decreased by 13 percent and fuel economy values have increased by 16 percent from MY 2007-2012.”
The reason we find this piece of news so important to report and disseminate is straightforward. As a continuation of our post of last week, it shows that it is way too early and clearly unwarranted to give up on significant reduction in CO2 emissions as a way to save the universe from heating up. There are policies and technologies that have come into play in the last five or six years that made a difference.
The change crosses over good times and bad, high fuel costs and low, Republican Administration and a Democrat in the White House. In the end it proves the obvious, that policy and market initiatives when working together towards the goals we articulate in this blog, actually work. Not only do we save the universe but we end up paying much less at the gas pump. Shouldn’t we ask for more of the same? We believe we should.
In the coming weeks we hope to bring to light numerous other such win-win policy initiatives that make all of us better off and, as a side effect… save the environment.