Vehicle Emissions of Short-lived and Long-lived Climate Forcers: Trends and Tradeoffs
Selecting technology options to mitigate the climate impacts of road transportation can be challenging, particularly when they involve a tradeoff between long-lived emissions (e.g., carbon dioxide) and short-lived emissions (e.g., methane or black carbon). We present trends in short- and long-lived emissions for light- and heavy-duty transport globally and in the U.S., EU, and China over the period 2000-2030 and discuss past and prospective future changes to vehicle technologies to reduce these emissions. We model the tradeoffs between short- and long-lived emissions reductions across a range of technology options, life cycle emission intensities, and equivalency metrics. While short-lived vehicle emissions have decreased globally over the past two decades, significant reductions in CO2 will be required by mid-century to meet climate change mitigation targets. This is true regardless of the time horizon used to compare long- and short-lived emissions. The short-lived emission intensities of some low-CO2 technologies are significantly higher than others, and thus their suitability for meeting climate targets depends sensitively on the evaluation time horizon. Other technologies offer low intensities of both short-lived emissions and CO2.