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Expand chart
Reproduced from Rhodium Group; Chart: Axios Visuals

Wringing carbon emissions out of transportation isn't easy, but new analysis sees a cost-effective path to major reductions over the next decade.

Why it matters: Combined emissions from cars, trucks and other transport segments overtook electric power as the nation's biggest CO2 source several years ago.

How it works: The Rhodium Group modeled proposed policies to speed the uptake of electric vehicles and boost efficiency, including...

  • Lifting the per-manufacturer cap on $7,500 consumer tax credits for buying EVs.
  • Major grants for public charging installations.
  • 10% investment tax credits for electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicle buys and waiver of federal excise taxes for big trucks.
  • Grants for school districts to go electric with their buses.
  • On the regulatory front, aggressive CO2 emissions standards.

The big picture: Extending the current incentives and charging build-out can push electric passenger vehicles from 2% of 2020 sales to 52% in 2031, the report concludes.

  • And check out the chart above, which adds tough standards and incentives for trucks and buses and so forth.
  • It all adds up to significant emissions cuts, but it's still very far from total decarbonization because vehicle fleets take a long time to turn over.

What we're watching: The analysis arrives as the White House and Congress are negotiating over infrastructure plans.

Go deeper

UN report: Effects of climate change even more severe than we thought

A wildfire burns in a forest over the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. (Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Global warming is happening so fast that scientists now say we'll cross a crucial temperature threshold as early as 2030 — up to a decade sooner than previously thought — according to a sweeping new UN-sponsored review of climate science published Monday.

The big picture: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher in 2019 than at any time in at least 2 million years, and the past 50 years saw the fastest temperature increases in at least 2,000 years, according to the new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

EIA report: Carbon emissions expected to increase in 2021

Reproduced from EIA; Chart: Axios Visuals

Coal consumption for electricity generation is expected to increase by 17% this year due to higher natural gas prices that are temporarily making coal more cost-competitive, according to the latest Short Term Energy Outlook released by the Energy Information Administration Tuesday.

Why it matters: Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel, so any uptick in its use, even temporarily, can have a significant influence on carbon emissions.

Aug 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate passes $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package

President Biden with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and other bipartisan senators. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Senate voted 69-30 on Tuesday to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, handing a major victory to President Biden and a group of senators that spent months negotiating on the agreement.

Why it matters: The monster bill would deliver hundreds of billions of dollars for roads, bridges, waterways and other "hard infrastructure" items. It is widely seen as a victory for both parties and the reputation of the Senate, especially given the current level of polarization in Congress.