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Reducing Carbon Dioxide Through Technology And Smart Growth

Date:
February 13, 2009
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
A new study on climate change, published by Environmental Science and Technology, shows that "smart growth" combined with the use of hybrid vehicle technology could reduce cities' carbon dioxide emissions -- the principal driver of global warming -- significantly by 2050.

Hybrid car. “Smart growth” combined with the use of hybrid vehicle technology could reduce cities’ carbon dioxide emissions – the principal driver of global warming – significantly by 2050.
Credit: iStockphoto/TIM MCCAIG

A Georgia Tech City and Regional Planning study on climate change, published February 10 by Environmental Science and Technology, shows that “smart growth” combined with the use of hybrid vehicle technology could reduce cities’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – the principal driver of global warming – significantly by2050.

According to Brian Stone, associate professor of City and Regional Planning, the research shows that expected levels of CO2 emissions from cars and trucks in2050 could be reduced back to2000 levels if the full vehicle fleet was converted to hybrid electric vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius or the soon-to-be released Chevy Volt. This research also found that a doubling of population density in large U.S. cities by2050 would have a greater impact on CO2 reductions than full hybridization of the vehicle fleet.

Stone’s study looked at11 major metropolitan regions of the Midwestern U.S. over a50-year period and took into account three different scenarios: the use of hybrid vehicles and two different urban growth scenarios through which population density was increased over time, a central component of smart growth planning.

“In this study we looked at two general approaches on how to deal with the challenge of climate change,” said Stone. “One approach is to improve vehicle technology and become more efficient. We can use less gas and reduce tailpipe emissions of CO2. The second approach is to change behavior by changing the way we design cities. We can travel less and take more walking and transit trips.”

Stone says he believes it would be possible for virtually all cars on the roads by2050 to be hybrid electric vehicles, assuming the costs of these vehicles become more competitive with conventional engine technologies. Today’s hybrid electric vehicles can achieve40 miles to the gallon and higher.

However, even the full hybridization of the national vehicle fleet by2050 would not meet the CO2 targets identified though the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change agreement which the United States has signed but not yet ratified. To meet these global targets, CO2 emissions from all sectors on the U.S. would need to return to1990 levels or lower. According to Stone’s work, meeting this goal in the transportation sector would require a combination of technological improvements and higher density land use patterns in cities.

“If we can help cities to grow in more compact ways, what we call smart growth, it will help reduce emissions even further by allowing people to travel less often, travel shorter distances when they do travel and take advantage of public transit,” said Stone.

The eleven metropolitan regions that were studied include Madison, Wisconsin, Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, Detroit, Michigan and Dayton, OH. In addition to Stone, Dr. Tracey Holloway, Scot Spak, and Adam Mednick also authored the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "Reducing Carbon Dioxide Through Technology And Smart Growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161854.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2009, February 13). Reducing Carbon Dioxide Through Technology And Smart Growth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161854.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "Reducing Carbon Dioxide Through Technology And Smart Growth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090211161854.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

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