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Automakers: Reduce Emissions By Letting The Market Dictate Which Technologies Can Succeed

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"Automakers: Reduce Emissions By Letting The Market Dictate Which Technologies Can Succeed"

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Our guest blogger is Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Disclosure: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is currently running paid advertisements on ThinkProgress.

carsAs negotiations between world leaders in Copenhagen hit full swing, the auto industry supports efforts to build a comprehensive, global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions sustainably. Automakers are already reinventing the automobile, introducing new technologies that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase fuel economy including fuel cell, electric, hydrogen, clean diesel, advanced biofuels and more.

However, in the transportation sector, for these efforts to be successful, the technology winners and losers cannot be pre-ordained. There is no “silver bullet” technology that will by itself alleviate our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, a diverse, global, and economy-wide set of energy solutions is needed.

Doing so will encourage competition and innovation among automakers, as well as provide consumers the world over with a continued ability to buy the types of vehicles they need for family, business and leisure. A global, economy-wide system of carbon reductions will also avoid generating conflicting standards from different regulatory bodies and provide automakers much needed certainty for long-term product planning.

In their discussions, world leaders should consider that it does not make sense to craft another future just as singularly dependent on one type of transportation technology as the current is on carbon based fuels.

While it is clear that reducing carbon emissions is a necessity, government’s role should not be to dictate which technologies are ultimately available to the consumer. Instead, government should evaluate our starting point and determine a satisfactory end point, but let the global market dictate what path to take between the two.
By developing these sound long-term end points, governments can thereby provide clarity and direction for businesses over the long haul -especially important given how fundamental a shift we are talking about.

The auto industry has already begun taking major steps to achieve significant carbon reductions in a relatively short period of time, but no one can predict the future or know which greenhouse gas- reducing transportation technologies will be successful. If automakers are regulatorily forced into researching and developing a handful of technologies to address climate concerns while ignoring all others, the world will miss a never before seen chance to spur transportation innovation, provide consumers with a multitude of choices, and develop a truly sustainable global carbon reduction framework.

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