April 9, 2010


Reducing Transportation Emissions in the Developing World:


The initial promise of carbon offset programs as a new funding incentive for emission-reduction projects in the developing world has failed to materialize in the transportation sector. Transportation accounts for less than 0.5% of projects under the largest offset program to date, the UN-administered Clean Development Mechanism. Based on archival analysis and interviews with UN decision makers and project developers, I show how the complexities of quantifying emission reductions from transportation provides a partial explanation for this under representation. However, many of these complexities, particularly second-order effects through market responses, have been glossed over in other sectors such as renewable energy. Thus, the case of transportation sheds lights on fundamental problems with quantifying carbon offsets. I also present simulation results showing how scaling up to sector-wide offset programs may scale up the uncertainties, and lead to the generation of large volumes of spurious (non-additional) emission reductions. Grant programs may lack the conceptual elegance of carbon trading, but may be a more robust way to bring about transportation emission reductions in the developing world.

Thank you for your interest in the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies. Subscribe today to keep up with the latest ITS news and happenings.

Join Our Mailing List