Chancellor's Leadership Professor
Economic Policy Advisor
There is a growing commitment to electrification as the dominant decarbonization pathway for transportation. While deep electrification is promising for road vehicles in wealthy countries, it will face steep obstacles. In other sectors and in the developing world, it’s not even in pole position. Global transportation decarbonization will require decoupling emissions from economic growth, and
decoupling emissions from growth will require not only new technologies, but cooperation in governance. The menu of policy options is replete with tradeoffs, particularly as the primacy of energy security and reliability (over emissions abatement) has once again been demonstrated in Europe and elsewhere.
Electrification is a centerpiece of global decarbonization efforts. Yet there are reasons to be skeptical of the inevitability, or at least the optimal pace, of the transition. Consumer preferences can bolster or slow electrification goals; and electrification is likely to encounter physical and economic obstacles when it reaches some as-yet-unknown level. The credibility and eventual success of decarbonization efforts is enhanced by foreseeing and ideally avoiding predictable but non-obvious costs of promising abatement pathways.