Destination: Zero Carbon

Three strategies to transform transportation in America

Executive Summary

In the U.S., transportation is climate enemy number one. America’s transportation system produces more greenhouse gas emissions than any other sector of our economy and, on its own, is responsible for 4 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – more than the entire economies of France and the United Kingdom combined.

There is no solution to global warming that doesn’t involve a sea change in how Americans get around and in how we power our cars and trucks. The good news: A clean, efficient, and sustainable low-carbon transportation system is possible. By phasing out fossil fuel vehicles, electrifying and improving our transit system, and getting more people walking and biking, the U.S. can take on today’s greatest environmental challenge, while creating communities that are healthier, safer and more livable.

Transportation is the leading source of carbon pollution in the U.S., and light-duty vehicles – including cars, pickups and SUVs – are the biggest contributors to the problem. In 2017, light-duty vehicles accounted for one-sixth of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, and nearly three-fifths of emissions from the transportation system. That is equivalent to:

  • Nearly all the carbon pollution from all the remaining U.S. coal-fired power plants.
  • More than the entire emissions of any country in the world except China, India, Russia and Japan.