Transportation Policy and Technology Options to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Minnesota

Principal Investigator:

Laurie McGinnis, Director, Center for Transportation Studies


Project Summary:

The transportation sector is the largest end-user emitter of carbon dioxide, the dominant greenhouse gas (GHG), in the United States, and projections indicate continued growth in transportation-emitted carbon dioxide through 2030. Minnesota established aggressive GHG reduction targets in response to these trends: 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015, 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This study analyzed transportation policy and technology options that will help Minnesota meet these targets. The analytic approach combined literature review and modeling to determine the greenhouse gas emissions reduction impacts, implementation aspects, and cost considerations of policies in three areas: vehicles, fuels, and transportation system shifts (including alternative travel modes, new land use strategies, road pricing options, and other system management practices). Policies were modeled in a variety of scenarios within the framework of Minnesota's GHG reduction goals and evaluated in terms of their potential emissions impacts, effects on stakeholder groups, and barriers to implementation, among other factors. The analysis provided critical information to help guide Minnesota's future transportation policies and achieve required reductions in GHG emissions. Overall, the research indicated that the goals can be met, but achieving them requires consistent and concerted action beginning immediately. The three main conclusions are as follows: 1. Meeting state goals will require all three types of policies. For example, Minnesota could adopt a GHG emissions standard, a low-carbon fuel standard, and comprehensive transit and Smart Growth policies. 2. Technologies are available today to substantially improve fuel economy and vehicle GHG emissions. Requiring these technologies could save Minnesota consumers money and better insulate them from oil price volatility. 3. Changes in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) have a strong impact on whether the goals can be met, and increases in VMT can offset GHG reductions.


Project Details:

  • Start date: 07/2007
  • Project Status: Completed
  • Research Area: Environment and Energy
  • Topics: Environment