California’s Energy Future – Transportation Energy Use in California

Author(s): Yang, Christopher; Ogden, Joan; Sperling, Dan; Hwang, Roland

Release Date: December 5, 2011 | Last Updated Date: February 19, 2015


This study is part of the California’s Energy Future project, a study designed to help inform the decisions California state and local governments must make in order to achieve California’s ambitious goals of significantly reducing total greenhouse gas emissions over the next four decades.

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) and Executive Order S-3-05 set strict standards for the state to meet. In order to comply, California needs to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 while accommodating projected growth in its economy and population. This will require that we use as little fossil fuel in transportation as possible. This study shows how a combination of electrification and increase in vehicle efficiency could significantly lower emissions from this sector.

The study finds that total transportation energy demand could be reduced 30% relative to 2005 levels in 2050 through improving overall vehicle efficiency and the use of advanced electric drivetrains such as plug-in electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. Achieving high fleet penetration of efficient and alternatively fueled light-duty vehicles by 2050 will require rapid market adoption in the next decades and an expansion of efficiency policies to cover the entire range of transportation sectors, including aviation and marine.