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Global Transportation Decarbonization
NBER
2023.10.12
Replacing fossil fuels in the name of decarbonization is necessary but will be particularly difficult due to their as-yet unrivaled bundle of attributes: abundance, ubiquity, energy density, transportability and cost. There is a growing commitment to electrification as the dominant decarbonization pathway. While deep electrification is promising for road transportation in wealthy countries, it will face steep obstacles. In other sectors and in the developing world, it‘s not even in pole position. Global transportation decarbonization will require decoupling emissions from economic growth, and decoupling emissions from growth will require not only new technologies, but cooperation in governance. The menu of policy options is replete with grim tradeoffs, particularly as the primacy of energy security and reliability (over emissions abatement) has once again been demonstrated in Europe and elsewhere.