Implications of uncertainty on regional CO2 mitigation policies for the U.S. onroad sector based on a high-resolution emissions estimate

Daniel Mendoza, Kevin Gurney, Sarath Geethakumar, Vandhana Chandrasekaran, Yuyu Zhou, Igor Razlivanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In this study we present onroad fossil fuel CO2 emissions estimated by the Vulcan Project, an effort quantifying fossil fuel CO2 emissions for the U.S. in high spatial and temporal resolution. This high-resolution data, aggregated at the state-level and classified in broad road and vehicle type categories, is compared to a commonly used national-average approach. We find that the use of national averages incurs state-level biases for road groupings that are almost twice as large as for vehicle groupings. The uncertainty for all groups exceeds the bias, and both quantities are positively correlated with total state emissions. States with the largest emissions totals are typically similar to one another in terms of emissions fraction distribution across road and vehicle groups, while smaller-emitting states have a wider range of variation in all groups. Uncertainties in reduction estimates as large as ±60% corresponding to ±0.2MtC are found for a national-average emissions mitigation strategy focused on a 10% emissions reduction from a single vehicle class, such as passenger gas vehicles or heavy diesel trucks. Recommendations are made for reducing CO2 emissions uncertainty by addressing its main drivers: VMT and fuel efficiency uncertainty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)386-395
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy Policy
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Transportation CO emissions
  • Transportation emissions bias and uncertainty
  • Transportation sector policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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