In the last 8 years, residents of these states have cut back by about a gallon per week, for a total gas consumption reduction of 11%. In the Pacific Northwest, gas usage has fallen to its lowest level since 1966, while CO2 emissions from gasoline have fallen by six-tenths of a ton per capita since 1999.
Clark Williams-Derry, Sightline research director, said that this was like “every driver taking an annual, five-week holiday from their cars.”
Williams-Derry attributed the trend to changing driving habits and more fuel efficient cars. Public transit ridership in Portland and Seattle is at an all-time high—the highest level nationally in 50 years.
Despite the positive trends, population growth has still made up the difference where decreasing per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are concerned. As a result, total CO2 emissions in the region have been roughly flat since 1999. The NorthWest’s gasoline consumption is also almost twice as high as the global average for high-income nations.
But we’re still beating the rest of the country, and no doubt these positive trends could be strengthened by the right policy environment.
“We’ve made progress, but adopting smart policies such as a cap-and-trade program that includes highway fuels can extend our gas savings,” said Williams-Derry. “It’s our best shot at protecting ourselves from rising prices at the pump, while reducing climate-warming pollution.”
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Photo Credit: Sightline Institute