SUVs preventing Kyoto Accord compliance?

I’m not particularly interested in starting up another “SUVs - Good or Bad” debate. My opinion on the subject is my own, and we’ve beaten that horse until it’s barely breathing.

However, in this article (which is, I freely admit, biased against SUVs and their owners), the author pops off with this bit of information:

Although stated as a fact, there is no further information given to back this statement up.

Is this true? Is he just looking at random emissions statistics and “guessing” this is true? Has he pulled this statement out of his ass?

No, it’s not true at all. Sounds like someone trying to stir up antagonism by inventing a scapegoat everyone loves.

Next they’ll be blaming smokers - and then human lung tissue for the CO2 exchange mechanism in the alveoli…

Complete and utter BS.

I had not heard that the US was trying to comply with Kyoto. When did we start trying to comply with a Protocol that we haven’t ratified?

Just give it a couple more years, and gas-hybrid SUV’s will be available that will dramatically improve effientcy/reduce CO2 production. Of course, with more fuel-effient cars people might drive more, ruining any gain, but that stuff happens. Also, I too find it silly to blaim SUV’s for the US being unable to comply with a Treaty it hasn’t ratified and even tried to comply with.

Well, I guess it is sort of an ill-defined question. We could turn it into a more defined question by asking for example: “How much would greenhouse gas emissions be reduced if everyone who had an SUV instead had a vehicle that gets the average gas mileage of a car?” [A first pass at this would be to calculate it assuming people drove the same amount; then, we might need to correct for the fact that people might drive a little more if the price per mile spent on gas were cheaper although my guess is that the price of gas is low enough and the elasticity of use to gas prices low enough that this would not be a large correction.]

My guess is that it would make a non-trivial reduction in emissions but almost certainly not enough to alone get us down to compliance with Kyoto.

If I get enough free time, I may try to dig up the statistics to look into this. As I say, I doubt the claim as stated would hold up. On the other hand, I would expect that a large increase in the efficiency of our transportation (e.g., by significantly raising fuel economy standards for both cars and light trucks / SUVs) would go quite a ways toward meeting the Kyoto target…probably couldn’t do it alone but is certainly a very important component.

Although the US Federal government has not ratified Kyoto, I read that at least 6 US states are trying to bring in state legislation to curb CO2 emissions to try and line up with the Kyoto Protocol. And so far as I can tell, SUV’s are not being targetted.

I thought it was because of all the methane gas cows were spittin’ out of their butts.
Slight hi-jack–These SUV/Truck bashers are saying it is wasteful for most folks to be driving these large vehicles----Same could be said for people building and living in homes larger than,say, 1500 square feet. Larger homes take up more land, take more resources to build, all those big trucks hauling material and cement, and they take more resources, (gas, oil, electricity, water) to maintain monthly. How would Mr. Rall feel about protesters keying or spray painting his big country home (if he has one)? Or any of those protesters–how would they feel if we broaden the search for resource wasters? (Again, sorry for the hi-jack).

Fireman - that’s more than a slight hijack.

Thanks for the answers; it seemed like more than a little BS to me but I just wasn’t sure.

Besides, if we really wanted to cut down CO2 emissions, one just begin replaceing coal power plants with nukes/other non-greenhouse gas producing plants.

Here are some statistics from the U.S. Climate Action Report-2002 published by the EPA:

…In 1999, greenhouse gas emissions were ~12% above 1990 levels. [Under Kyoto they would have to in theory be reduced to like 7% below 1990 levels by 2012 although in reality, because of the various loopholes in the treaty for sinks and international emissions trading it would probably be something closer to even with 1990 levels.]

…Transportation accounted for 26% of the emissions.

…Passenger cars and light duty trucks together make up ~62% of the transportation emissions, with the breakdown reported as 40% for passenger cars and 22% for light trucks.

So, putting all that together: First, let’s say that by now we are probably ~15% above 1990 levels and given the Kyoto rules with the various loopholes, let’s then say we have to cut back by 15%. Since cars and light trucks alone account for 16% of the emissions, we clearly could not meet Kyoto by only dealing with them (without getting rid of them altogether!), let alone only dealing only with SUVs. I am a little confused whether “light trucks” includes all SUVs or if they are mixed in with both passenger cars and light trucks (because the numbers for emissions from light trucks seem a bit lower than I’d expect if they include SUVs). But assuming that “light trucks” includes SUVs, it looks like improving emissions of SUVs/light trucks to that of cars (or replacing them with cars) would get us maybe a 2% reduction in our emissions. Dramatically increasing the fuel efficiency of all passenger cars, light trucks, and SUVs (by a factor of, say, 1.7) would reduce emissions by about 6-7%.

So, the basic conclusion: SUVs are very far from the whole problem in meeting Kyoto. On the other hand, they are not a completely insignificant factor either: you get a couple percent emissions reductions here and a couple of percent of emissions reductions there and pretty soon you have met the target. It seems likely that we couldn’t easily meet the target by concentrating simply on one sector…We’d have to work on all the sectors (transportation, industrial, residential).