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Ford researchers: global light-duty CO2 regulatory targets broadly consistent with 450 ppm stabilization

An analysis by researchers at Ford Motor Company Research and Advanced Engineering in Dearborn and Ford Forschungszentrum in Germany concludes that existing global light-duty vehicle CO2 regulations through 2025 are broadly consistent with the light-duty vehicle (LDV) sector contributing to stabilizing CO2 at an atmospheric concentration of approximately 450 ppm—a target often proposed in the literature as preventing dangerous climate change. Their paper is published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, the Ford team derived regional CO2 targets for new LDVs while still providing an integrated view of the global LDV fleet—a perspective critical to the planning needs for global automotive firms. The teams calls the time-varying LDV targets “CO2 glide paths”.

In the study, the teams considers only CO2—not CO2eq. Further, the study compares 450 ppm LDV CO2 glide paths derived using only vehicle efficiency improvements against those derived using both vehicle and fuel actions.

They developed the LDV CO2 glide paths using a modified version of the Sustainable Mobility Project (SMP) model developed by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The SMP model calculates 2000−2050 well-to-wheels (WTW) transportation sector CO2 emissions in 11 world regions for a number of vehicle types.

The Ford team updated the SMP model with historical data for 2000, 2005, and 2010, and extended the model to calculate the total CO2 emissions (tonnes) and the TTW (tank-to-wheel) emission rate (g CO2/km) for the new vehicle fleet.

The researchers used a four-step process in their study:

  1. Determining the relative change in global, all-sector CO2 emissions required for CO2 stabilization at 450 ppm. They converted from an absolute amount to scale relative to 2000. They assumed that all sectors of the economy follow the same proportional reduction.

  2. They then applied the relative scale to the global LDV fleet WTW (well-to-wheels) CO2 emissions of approximately 3 GtCO2/yr in the year 2014 to get the absolute (Gt CO2/yr) emissions. They refer to these emission trajectories as the global CO2 caps.

    To achieve 450 ppm, WTW LDV CO2 emissions decrease 25% from 2000 and 34% between 2010 and 2050.

  3. Holding vehicle efficiencies, powertrain shares and fuel characteristics constant at 2010 levels, they then considered the effect of only vehicle actions. They calculated the TTW vehicle efficiency improvements required for the new vehicle fleet such that the global WTW LDV CO2 cap is met.

    They reduced the new fleet fuel consumption (FC) rates by the same proportion in each region, relative to their own starting points. The resulting full fleet WTW fossil CO2 emissions in each region become the regional CO2 caps.

  4. In the final step, they added fuel actions to reduce CO2 (e.g., biofuels, carbon intensity) and updated input variables from 2010 levels to reflect regional future conditions. The variables included biofuel availability, WTT fuel carbon intensity, and powertrain characteristics and mix, with unique assumptions for each region.

Because of the high LDV emissions in 2000−2010, the 450 ppm CO2 cap (solid black line) is already exceeded in 2010 (dashed black line). To meet the cap by 2015 requires an “infeasible” 40% new vehicle fuel consumption (FC) reduction per year in 2011−2015 (<0.6 L/100 km or >400 MPG by 2015) to overcome the inertia of the higher-emitting older vehicles in the fleet. The new vehicle FC reduction in the following years would be essentially zero.

Instead, the Ford team used the area-preserving best fit global LDV emissions, allowing a potentially feasible solution in the near-term but requiring the fleet WTW CO2 emissions to be less than the cap in the long term. The cumulative CO2 emissions 2000−2060 are the same or less than defined by the global WRE450 cap while the vehicle efficiency requirements are fairly stable but remain very aggressive. Credit: ACS, Winkler et al.

Results. When only vehicle efficiency actions are considered (Step 3), the required FC reductions are 4−5%/year. By 2050, all regions have reduced new vehicle fuel consumption by 83% relative to 2010 yielding average new vehicle TTW emission targets in 2050 ranging from 24 g CO2/km in Latin America to 32 g CO2/km in North America.

Broadly, the Ford team found that new light-duty vehicle fuel economy and CO2 regulations in the US through 2025 and in the EU through 2020 are consistent with the CO2 glide paths. For the EU, the glide path is at the upper end of the discussed 2025 EU range of 68–78 g CO2/km. While the proposed China regulation for 2020 is more stringent than the glide path, the 2017 Brazil regulation is less stringent.

  • Biofuel plays a large role in North America, enabling the relaxation of the near-term (2015−2025) vehicle CO2 reduction task from 4.5 to 5% YOY to 3.5% YOY. The overall ethanol volume blend share in the gasoline/ethanol fuel pool grows from 14% (10% by energy) in 2020 to 30% (22% energy basis) in 2030. The long-term biofuel blend share is 66% by volume (56% by energy) in 2050.

    With fuel actions the NA glide path is reasonably consistent with the US regulations for fuel economy and vehicle CO2 emissions.

  • Similarly, with the addition of fuel actions, the OECD Europe glide paths are relaxed from 4.5-5% YOY to 4.25% YOY in the near-term. The resulting ethanol blend shares are 5% by energy in 2020 (8% by volume), 10% by energy in 2030 and 24% blend share by energy (32% by volume) in 2050.

    The biodiesel blend share is restricted to 7% by energy through 2020, consistent with regulations. Then both the biodiesel (FAME) blend share and share of drop-in renewable diesel like BTL begin to increase, reaching 75% blend share (energy-based) in 2050.

    The industry-average OECD Europe CO2 glide path is consistent with European Union regulations.

  • With fuel actions, the China glide path is relaxed from 4.5 to 5% YOY to 3.5% YOY in the near-term. Ethanol use results in a 4% blend share by energy (6% by volume) in 2020, 11% (16%) in 2030, and 67% blend share (76%) in 2050.

    Chinese regulations are less stringent than the glide path (153 g CO2/km) in 2015, but in 2020 the regulation overachieves the glide path target of 128 g CO2/km. The combined vehicle and fuel actions reduce WTW CO2 by 42% between 2010 and 2050.

  • Adding fuel actions in Latin America relaxes the near-term (2015−2025) vehicle CO2 reduction task to 3% YOY. The ethanol blend share in 2010 is 27% (energy-based; 36% by volume). This is consistent with Brazilian Otto-cycle fuel sales (gasohol E20-E25 and hydrous ethanol E100) which have been 40−50% ethanol by volume since 2007.

    By 2020 the ethanol share increases to 32% by energy (41% by volume) and reaches a maximum of 94% by energy (96% by volume) in 2050. Most countries in Latin America do not have CO2 regulations. Brazil recently proposed passenger vehicle CO2 emissions regulations of 135 g CO2/km by 2017,57 considerably less stringent than the 450 ppm glide path result of 126 g CO2/km in 2015. Combined vehicle and fuel actions reduce LDV WTW CO2 by 52% between 2010 and 2050 in Latin America.

The vehicle glide path targets for 450 ppm beyond 2025 are very challenging for internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs). … The near- and mid-term glide paths over the next 5−15 years could probably be met using improvements to existing technologies. The long-term glide path targets beyond 2025 imply the need for a substantial penetration of alternative vehicle/fuel technologies.

We frame the glide paths in terms of tank-to-wheels (TTW) CO2 targets for internal combustion engine vehicles, recognizing their likely future dominance over the next 5−15 years and to facilitate comparison with regulations.… Alternative vehicle/fuel technologies which may contribute in the future include plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) running on low-CO2 electricity, low-CO2 hydrogen, or low- CO2 liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

The glide paths do not prescribe the powertrain/technology shares, but provide the required CO2 targets. Future vehicle/fuel choices will be driven by economic and policy considerations which are beyond the scope of the present analysis.

—Winkler et al.


  • Sandra L. Winkler, Timothy J. Wallington, Heiko Maas, and Heinz Hass (2014) “Light-Duty Vehicle CO2 Targets Consistent with 450 ppm CO2 Stabilization,” Environmental Science & Technology doi: 10.1021/es405651p




"Please don't put any more fuel economy regulations on us! This study we funded says we're doing just peachy in the CO2 emissions department, but only if you assume a wildly optimistic share of biofuels coming into the market AND you don't count the pesky land use and other emissions associated with biofuel production. And while we assume total global emissions will be cut by 50% by 2050, no real reductions will happen until after 2020 anyway."

I'd like to add that all these assumptions go out the window if the depletion profile for conventional oil production is steeper than we are planning for AND our unconventional plays pan out (Shale oil, Tar Sands, etc.). If we are forced to use Oil Shale, coal-to-liquids or any other climate nightmare to supply our liquid fuel habit, then all bets are off. And when you account for all the methane leaks from hydraulic fracturing drilling, then it looks like all bets are off right now.

Hopefully, better transportation planning and increasing vehicle electrification will make this study's rosy predictions pan out. However, 450ppm STILL locks us into several feet of sea level rise eventually, dangerously acidic oceans and dangerous extremes in weather that will be highly disruptive to the geopolitics of the 21st Century and beyond. We need to find some way to suck carbon already emitted out of the atmosphere to come back down to the 350ppm that the latest climate science tells us is the actual danger limit. Reforestation and greening desert regions might help and are FAR preferrable to crazier geoengineering schemes.


We really need to aim for zero.  This means EVs using zero-carbon electricity, and substitution of fossil fuels with electricity all up and down the lifecycle.


You can aim for anything you want, but the probability of success may be reduced. If you aim for perfection and nothing else will do you could end up with nothing.


If you manufactured and drove a car in Sweden or Norway (where the electricity is carbon-free or close to it) and used electricity instead of coal where feasible, you'd wind up with close to a carbon-free vehicle.  The capability is there.  Some applications and regions may need more incentive to adopt the mechanisms and methods, but as carbon-based fuels get scarce that will happen eventually.  Our problem is it's not happening quite fast enough, so we should push harder.  European-level fuel taxes worldwide would be a great start.


Regardless of what too many posters claim, the real culprit seems to be North America and we are not doing any better, even if we transferred many manufacturing activities to China and Asia. .

Germany's per capita GHG went down -21% while ours went up by about +22%. We (USA and Canada) must be doing something very wrong?


Let's say we want to reduce CO2 emissions to zero in 20 years. A total commitment would take enormous resources, then we start the huge program putting everything into it.

The common belief is if you go for zero, you might get to half, but that may not be the case. If it is zero or bust you may be shooting for something virtually impossible using vast resources that will not give you partial victory, it would be all or nothing.


Why is industrial Germany doing so well and we are not?


Republicans. Bush told everyone that if we wanted an expanding economy we had to use lots of fossil fuels. When people are conditioned, they don't want to believe the truth.


What we need are a list of "Ten Best Ideas" for reducing greenhouse gases, and not some simulated projections. Let's see:

1. Low till/No Till Agriculture can deal 30% of manmade GGE by tackling methane and CO2 sequestration, not to mention doubling agricultural productivity.

2. Reforestation, even to the point of planting tree and shrub barriers in the suburbs will reverse deforestation and desertification. The Sahel and Sahara still have enough seasonal grasses and savanah to form a basis for forests. Better and more aggressive forest management in North America, against low grade combustible stands and insect infestation.

3. Replace structural steel with as much lumber and cellulosic composites, including Acoya treated lumber, which is stronger than teak.

4. Bring marginal soils in the American South, Venezuela, Central Asia, etc. into better production for grazing, modified sugar cane, oil seed and legume substitutes (such as chick peas and pongamia), with deemphasis on maize.

5. BUT replacement of tundra forest in much of Alaska and Siberia with native grasses and grain production, to provide a reflective surface for methyl clathrate within the permafrost.

6. Sewage recycling and hydrothermal carbonization, such as demonstrated by Enertech of California, which will stop ocean dumping and provide about 1/4 of residential electrical and direct heating needs, more efficiently than coal. More effective recycling for fertilizer and soil amendment.

7.Nuclear, with fast-neutron and Thorium in MOX by way of an aggressive waste fuel remediation and storage effort. Coal baseload globally to be replaced in 30 years.

8. Full use of DC and superconductive generator and transformer technology, to cut gross power requirements for electricity by 30%. DC will certainly piggyback solar from the overall management perspective.

9. Natural gas conservation, predicated on 40% HVAC energy wasted in typical business or residential setting, due to outdated technology and building design. Will redound to the favor of natural gas vehicles and heat pumping, esp. geothermal.

10. Better mass transportation and urban space economies to anticipate it. It is a crying shame what so-called developing economies have locked themselves into.

There. None of this forces us to freeze in the dark or have trepidation of unfamiliar and untried technology, including and especially in the automotive sector.

Germany's per capita GHG went down -21% while ours went up by about +22%. We (USA and Canada) must be doing something very wrong?

Yeah.  We didn't take over an ex-Communist fraction of our country and shut its inefficient, filthy, uneconomic factories and generating plants down.  If only the US and Canada could have done that...

Canada as a whole has sky-high emissions, in no small part due to activities in Alberta.  On the other hand, Ontario is doing extremely well on the electric side.  It still burns way too much petroleum, but it has essentially gotten rid of coal and transport can be electrified.


Let's give credit to Germany for promoting more efficient clean energy usage for the last 10 to 15 years.

Canada's sky high per capita GHG (22-ton/year) is almost 100% due to Alberta's rocket high (62-ton/year) to produce Oil for export to USA. If the current trend is maintained, Alberta's per capita GHG may go up to 100+ ton/year in about 10-12 years.

Ontario, where 42.5% of the Canadian population lives has a per capita GHG of only (12-ton/year) due to the use of many NPPs.

Quebec, where 23.5% of the Canadian population lives has a very low per capita GHG of only (9-ton/year) due to the use of almost 100% clean hydro-wind electricity.


In 2008, the government of British Columbia decided to impose a tax on greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and guess what?

It worked. "A recent analysis by Seattle's Sightline Institute shows that BC's sales of motor fuels and other petroleum products declined by 15 percent in just the first four years of the carbon tax, much more than in the country as a whole." While another analysis, by the research and policy group Sustainable Prosperity, finds a similar result: A 17 percent per capita decline in fuel consumption in BC.

And strangely, it's popular. "Polls have shown anywhere from 55 to 65 percent support for the tax."

And it hasn't hurt our economy at all.

Ontario, where 42.5% of the Canadian population lives has a per capita GHG of only (12-ton/year) due to the use of many NPPs.

Only 50% higher than the EU average, and about double the level of France:

For atmospheric CO2 to stop increasing, we must cut per-capita emissions to about 1 ton.


I agree with E-P that the use of NPPs is not enough to reduce our per capita GHG emission to under 6-ton let alone to 1-ton.

To reach 1-ton level, we would have to drastically change our acquired consumption addiction and to:

1. drastically reduce our beef and pork consumption.

2. drastically reduce our over-eating addiction by 30% to 40%.

3. rethink our acquired throw-away addiction.

4. buy (less) but higher quality longer lasting goods.

5. build smaller better insulated houses with improved (German style) doors & windows and high efficiency Heat Pumps and combined electric water heaters.

6. install about 2.5 to 4.0 KW high efficiency solar panels on existing and new houses.

7. Scrapping all oil and NG furnaces-stoves-dryers and replace them with electric appliances-heaters and cold weather Heat Pumps.

8. use high speed passenger and cargo e-trains, e-city buses, e-subways, e-delivery trucks, BEVs instead of diesel locomotives, diesel cargo and delivery trucks, diesel buses and ICEVs.

9. Use very high speed e-trains instead of Jets for all trips under 1,000 and eventually for 1,500 miles.

10. Scrap our 240,000,000 heavy gas guzzlers and replace them with HEVs & PHEVs and eventually with BEVs and FCEVs.

11. phase out all CPPs and hen NGPPs and replace them with Hydro, Wind, Solar and small transportable mass produced NPPs.

The question remains, how to convince people to do it.

A progressive but significant carbon tax on selective food, liquid fuels, and selective non-food locally produced and imported goods may be required.

We will have to find and elect leaders with enough determination, will power and dedication.They may not be around soon enough.


Germany was doing OK until they turned off their nuclear power stations before they had reached end of life and replaced them with lignite burning power stations, and solar then the sun shines.

My view is that the government mandated crazy renewable quotas in the hope that German industry could achieve it, and then they would force the rest of the EU to adopt the same policies and buy loads of power equipment from German companies.

However, it backfired as it has not been achieved and the shortfall has been made up by lignite which generates huge amounts of CO2 and other pollutants.

IMO the problem of reducing CO2 is that it causes up front costs in your current industry, making them less efficient compared to people who don't bother.

Thus, there is a tendency to cheat, especially for smaller nations.

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