The U.S. transportation sector is on the verge of a major transformation, providing a unique opportunity to design its path forward. If we are proactive, we can build a sector that is more energy-efficient, safe, productive, clean, convenient, and accessible for all.
Our vehicles today use a fraction of the energy of those from just decades ago – thanks primarily to fuel economy standards set by the federal government. These standards are one of the most flexible and effective tools for saving costs and reducing pollution. They have driven innovation and must continue to be strengthened going forward.
Despite this progress, with the population and economy growing – and Americans driving more – the transportation sector is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., eclipsing the electric power sector.
But a confluence of new technologies, entrepreneurial business models, and other innovations are changing the trajectory of the sector. Electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and new information and communications technologies like ride-hailing services are bringing the U.S. to the verge of a major transformation that could dramatically reduce our transportation energy use. Embracing this opportunity requires a national vision for the future, and a collaborative effort to design the regulatory and policy frameworks to deliver it.
The Alliance strongly supports traditional policies such as Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which have proven to be the most impactful efficiency policy in U.S. history. Continued improvements to these standards are critical for reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector for the near-term.
Additionally, to capitalize on the unprecedented opportunities emerging in this sector, the Alliance convened the 50x50 Commission on U.S. Transportation Sector Efficiency (50x50 Commission), a partnership of public and private stakeholders including automakers, utilities, public interest groups, product manufacturers, and technology providers, from 2017-2019. Chaired by National Grid and Audi, the 50x50 Commission articulated a goal to meet evolving transportation needs while reducing energy use 50% by 2050. This goal not only reduces energy use, but also drives co-benefits including transportation affordability, environmental stewardship, convenience, and equity.
The transportation sector contributes approximately $1 trillion to U.S. GDP and is responsible for 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions – representing an important opportunity to enhance energy productivity.
The 50x50 Commission worked for two years to identify impactful bipartisan policy solutions to move America toward achieving the 50x50 goal. In 2018, the consensus report, "50x50: Reinventing U.S. Mobility," was released, providing a set of recommendations urging the private sector and policymakers at all levels – local, state, and federal – to act in three key areas: transform, innovate, and invest. In 2019, the Alliance joined members of the Commission to release a policy platform, "Building the Foundation for 50x50: A Policy Proposal for Infrastructure and Surface Transportation Authorization," for federal policymakers considering infrastructure and surface transportation reauthorization proposals designed to create a strong foundation to achieve the 50x50 goal.
The 50x50 Commission has sunset into the 50x50 Action Network, a group of stakeholders committed to transitioning the 50x50 vision into practice. This includes incorporating recommendations into Surface Transportation Reauthorization legislation, activating champions for electricification and efficient transportation, and exploring solutions to complex, multi-jurisdictional topics, such as automation and energy use, through action-focused roundtable discussions.
Help the Alliance advocate for policies to use energy more efficiently – supporting job creation, reduced emissions, and lower costs. Contact your member of Congress.
Energy efficiency is smart, nonpartisan, and practical. So are we. Our strength comes from an unparalleled group of Alliance Associates working collaboratively under the Alliance umbrella to pave the way for energy efficiency gains.
The power of efficiency is in your hands. Supporting the Alliance means supporting a vision for using energy more productively to achieve economic growth, a cleaner environment, and greater energy security, affordability, and reliability.