Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars

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How can cars be redesigned to meet the air quality needs of tomorrow?  What does it take to set up a legislative framework to ensure reduction of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions for the future?  Join WCEE  for a discussion on these questions and more with Margo Oge, author of the book Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars, and architect of EPA’s recent historic air quality regulations for the transportation sector.

Margo Oge served at the US Environmental Protection Agency for 32 years, the last 18 of which she directed the Office of Transportation Air Quality. While there, she was a chief architect of some of the most important achievements in reducing transportation-related air pollution. As a result of these rules, emissions from cars, trucks, buses, off-road vehicles, locomotives and marine vessels—as well as gasoline and diesel fuel—were reduced up to 99 percent. These regulations prevent over 40,000 premature deaths and hundreds of thousands of respiratory illnesses each year

In Driving the Future: Combating Climate Change with Cleaner, Smarter Cars, Margo Oge envisions a future of clean, intelligent vehicles with lighter frames and alternative power trains, such as plug in electric and fuel cell vehicles that produce zero emissions and average 100+ mpg. The cars of tomorrow will have more in common with our smart phones than with the vehicles we drive today. With electronic architectures more like that of airplanes, they will be smarter and safer, will park themselves, and will network with other vehicles on the road to drive themselves, save fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These innovative vehicles will be necessary to combat climate change as the transportation sector accounts for one-third the global greenhouse gas emissions in the US.

Oge also provides the ultimate insider’s account of the partnership between federal agencies, California and car manufacturers that led to President Obama’s historic 2012 deal targeting greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles. The deal will double the fuel efficiency of cars by 2025, avoid burning 12 billion barrels of oil and prevent the creation of 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, all while saving the consumer $1.7 trillion. She describes the efforts of a wide-ranging group of people— from a staunchly Republican Texas hedge fund millionaire to a former California public school teacher to the Georgetown lawyer who prepared the winning argument for a Supreme Court decision on greenhouse gases, to dedicated EPA engineers in Ann Arbor who play critical roles in the first national climate action in the US.

In large part because of strengthening clean air regulations, Americans are seeing more innovation and faster adoption of advanced technologies.  Today, we can already buy several models that achieve 100 mpg, and there are seventy-six alternative powertrain vehicle models in showrooms. Yet, to avert the worst impact of climate change by 2050, Oge claims that it will be necessary for cars and light trucks to average 180 mpg by 2050—a bold but not impossible target.


Cassidy & Associates
733 10th St., NW
Washington District of Columbia 20001

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