Emission Projections for Long-Haul Freight Trucks and Rail in the United States through 2050

Liang Liu, Taesung Hwang, Sungwon Lee, Yanfeng Ouyang, Bumsoo Lee, Steven J. Smith, Fang Yan, Kathryn Daenzer, Tami C. Bond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work develops an integrated model approach for estimating emissions from long-haul freight truck and rail transport in the United States between 2010 and 2050. We connect models of macroeconomic activity, freight demand by commodity, transportation networks, and emission technology to represent different pathways of future freight emissions. Emissions of particulate matter (PM), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and total hydrocarbon (THC) decrease by 60%-70% from 2010 to 2030, as older vehicles built to less-stringent emission standards retire. Climate policy, in the form of carbon tax that increases apparent fuel prices, causes a shift from truck to rail, resulting in a 30% reduction in fuel consumption and a 10%-28% reduction in pollutant emissions by 2050, if rail capacity is sufficient. Eliminating high-emitting conditions in the truck fleet affects air pollutants by 20% to 65%; although these estimates are highly uncertain, they indicate the importance of durability in vehicle engines and emission control systems. Future infrastructure investment will be required both to meet transport demand and to enable actions that reduce emissions of air and climate pollutants. By driving the integrated model framework with two macroeconomic scenarios, we show that the effect of carbon tax on air pollution is robust regardless of growth levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11569-11576
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Sep 14 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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