The Asilomar Declaration
In summary, GHG emissions are growing, the scientific evidence linking
GHG emissions to troubling climate changes is gathering momentum, and
the global political response, though strengthening, remains largely inef-
fective. Transportation is a particularly difficult challenge. Against this
backdrop, roughly 200 climate change leaders and experts were invited to
focus on the transportation GHG challenge at the tenth Biennial Confer-
ence on Transportation Energy and Environmental Policy convened at the
Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California, August 23–26,
2005.
The three-day meeting featured more than 25 presentations by inter-
national leaders and experts from industry, government, academia, and non-
governmental organizations. From the presentations and discussions, 14
chapters were prepared for this book, 12 by presenters and 2 by other par-
ticipants. Specific session topics at Asilomar included climate change trends
and research, CO
2
reduction through new technologies and alternative fuels,
options to restrain vehicle travel growth, responses in developing nations,
GHG policy instruments, and U.S. GHG reduction initiatives.
The lively discussions highlighted the lack of a clear consensus, even
among experts, about what steps should be taken and when to prevent
global climate change. Nonetheless, several threads of agreement surfaced
among the experts. These were put into writing and endorsed by partici-
pants near the end of the conference. Called the Asilomar Declaration, the
agreement states the following three commonly held beliefs.
Declaration 1: It is the consensus of the Tenth Biennial Conference on
Transportation Energy and Environmental Policy that climate change is
real. Transportation-related GHG emissions are a major part of this
global problem, and they must be reduced.
This initial assertion indicated agreement among the various represen-
tatives of the national and international transportation community—
practitioners, suppliers, consumers, researchers, policymakers, and
advocates—that the time has come for the transportation sector to squarely
confront the challenges for reducing GHG emissions.
Declaration 2: U.S. national policy has so far failed to adequately
address the role of transportation in climate change. This must be
remedied.
Transportation is a principal contributor to climate change, and trans-
portation infrastructure is threatened by changes in climate. More and
better planning is needed to anticipate and respond to changes in climate.
That is a challenge for the traditional transportation infrastructure com-
munity. But of greater concern is how to reduce GHG emissions—and, for
additional reasons, oil use. Sometime in the near future, most likely
Introduction and Overview 5
between 2010 and 2020, world conventional oil production in non-OPEC
countries will peak, even as demand for oil, especially for transportation,
continues to climb. New transportation fuels and new fuel technologies are
needed to deal with the resulting shortfall. These new technologies require
long lead times, often in excess of 20 years. While there was not detailed
agreement about how and when to proceed, there was agreement that
actions to reduce GHG emissions and oil use need to accelerate.
Declaration 3: By judiciously crafting a portfolio of solutions, it is
possible to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions, while creating
an efficient and effective transportation system for current and future
generations.
Opportunities abound to reduce transportation-related GHG emis-
sions. Reductions can be realized even while increasing people’s (and firms’)
access to goods and services. Opportunities include improved fuel effi-
ciency, improved fuel and vehicle technologies, a more robust mix of trans-
portation fuels, and demand-side strategies that improve the efficiency of
the transportation system. These latter strategies include improved land-
use planning, tolls and other pricing schemes, greater public investment in
alternative modes of travel, consumer incentives, improved system inte-
gration, and mobility management. These many strategies for improving the
transportation and energy systems are pursued in isolation from each other
and are relatively ineffective, especially in the United States. There is an
increasing urgency to pursue those that are most effective and beneficial.
The underlying issues and insights that led to the Asilomar Declara-
tion are addressed within this book. The book is organized into five groups
of chapters:
Global oil and climate change
Policies to reduce transportation GHG emissions
International GHG reduction programs
Public opinion and climate change issues
Conclusions
The first two chapters that follow this introduction address the global
trends in oil and climate change. World oil demand is expected to grow more
than 40 percent by 2025. It is highly questionable today whether global pro-
duction can expand even to meet this relatively short-term increase in
demand before it reaches its peak output.
There exists no silver bullet for reducing petroleum fuel use in trans-
portation, or for the resulting GHG emissions. There are, however, policy
measures available to encourage the production, purchase, and use of more
fuel efficient vehicles, as well as reduce driving. Speakers at Asilomar pre-
sented an encouraging array of fiscal and regulatory strategies that could
be applied in the United States and elsewhere to displace petroleum
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