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Climate Solutions: Transportation

The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the United States. Reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector can benefit the economy and the environment.

C2ES is working to promote alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), such as natural gas vehicles (NGVs) and electric vehicles (EVs), which emit fewer greenhouse gases than conventionally fueled vehicles.

Working with with federal, state, and city agencies, as well as private companies, C2ES collaborates to identify and implement innovative and practical solutions to reduce the financial, technological, and policy barriers that may inhibit public and private EV adoption. Our work includes:

  • Research on city actions to promote EVs;
  • Direct consultation with states on EV charging infrastructure;
  • Analysis on the potential fuel cost savings of switching fleets to NGVs;
  • Educational efforts to provide updates on the EV market.


City Initiatives

Promoting Electric Vehicles in U.S. Cities


C2ES collaborated with the International Council on Clean Transportation to research activities by the largest U.S. cities and their utilities to promote EVs. The research informed the ICCT’s report, Assessment of Leading Electric Vehicle Promotion Activities in United States Cities. The report provided information on the value of promotions offered in each city.

Key findings include:

  • Cities are leading on electric vehicles in diverse ways;
  • Policy is driving accelerated electric vehicle deployment in several cities;
  • Best practices for driving electric vehicles into the fleet are beginning to emerge; and
  • Cities are an important focal point for collaboration among governments, the auto industry, utilities, and advocacy.


State Initiatives

An Electric Vehicle Market Analysis Tool

C2ES supported the development of EValuateNY, a data tool from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The tool gathers information from a wide variety of sources to enable comparisons of different factors that may affect EV efforts.

EValuateNY contains data on EV registrations, promotional policies and activities at the state and city levels, demographics, fuel prices for both gasoline and electricity, HOV lane access, and more. Data that were never before easily comparable can now be put side by side, filtered by time and location. These comparisons allow users to glean new insights and look for trends in New York’s EV market.

Unlocking Private Sector Financing for Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Fueling Infrastructure

C2ES, in partnership with National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program, began a two-year project in early 2013 to develop new financial tools aimed at accelerating the deployment of AFVs and fueling infrastructure. C2ES assembled an advisory group of experts on AFVs, infrastructure, and finance from the public and private sectors to help guide its work. The project aimed to:

  • Identify barriers that hinder private sector investment;
  • Develop and evaluate innovative financing concepts for vehicle purchase and fueling infrastructure in order to make AFVs more accessible to consumers and fleet operators; and
  • Stimulate private-sector investment in AFVs and the associated infrastructure deployment, building upon and complementing previous public sector investments.

C2ES researched financial barriers, prepared case studies, and developed strategies for states to consider:


The project specifically emphasized two fuels that offer significant opportunities for growth—electricity and natural gas. Biofuels were not considered because many government and private sector stakeholders are already facilitating the deployment of biofuel-powered vehicles. Vehicles powered by hydrogen were included, but they were not a major focus because hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not yet widely available.

Charging Networks

Business Models for Financially Sustainable EV Charging Networks

In May 2014, the Washington State Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee selected C2ES to develop new business models to foster private sector commercialization of public EV charging services. First, C2ES assessed the state of EV charging in Washington and created useful products for the state to perform similar assessments as the market evolves. Second, drawing from its experience with the AFV Finance Initiative and similar activities, C2ES identified and evaluated business models for EV charging in the state. Finally, C2ES recommended ways the public sector can support those business models to maximize private sector investment in EV charging.


PEV Dialogue

The PEV Dialogue Group focused on three challenges: (1) making sure electric vehicle owners can conveniently plug in at home and on the road, (2) safeguarding the reliability of America’s electrical grid; and (3) informing car buyers. The Group’s report, An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid, provides a roadmap for achieving these objectives. 

The Action Plan, released on March 13, 2012, recommends coordinated action by the public and private sectors at the state and local levels to harmonize regulatory approaches across the country, balance public and private investments in charging infrastructure, and help consumers understand the benefits and choices offered by electric vehicles.

To meet our climate, energy, and transportation challenges, we must also implement strong fuel economy standards, advance other alternative fuels and technologies, and pursue other policies that help reduce vehicle miles traveled. Electric vehicles are only part of the solution, but potentially, a significant one.

The Action Plan takes a broad look at the challenges related to PEV-grid integration such as a consistent regulatory framework and consumer education. It suggests roles for businesses, electric utilities, government, and NGOs in electric vehicle deployment, and it identifies needed actions for a compatible regulatory framework, public and private investment, PEV rollout, and consumer education.

The next phase of this initiative constitutes the implementation of the Action Plan. We have already executed specific activities (see below) prescribed in the Plan. The following focus areas embody both types of follow-on actions:

  • Connect Leaders around the Country: Convene electric vehicle leaders to foster state-level action, specific to the needs of transportation agencies and PUCs, through peer exchanges and educational workshops. Be the connective tissue for disparate efforts nationwide to encourage the sharing and development of best practices, and to ensure that actions taken at state and local levels are compatible with each other.
  • Advise Individual Efforts: Provide strategic advice to state and local electric vehicle planning efforts. Focus on regulatory issues, optimizing public and private investments, and facilitating rollout. 
  • Driver Behavior Analysis: Conduct research on electric vehicle driver behavior as it relates to vehicle charging infrastructure needs, grid reliability, transportation system financing, and maximizing electric miles traveled.
  • Consumer Education Strategy: Create and promote a web platform to educate consumers on the electric vehicle value proposition and electric vehicle technology.

In this implementation phase, C2ES has been working with the PEV Dialogue Group to implement the Action Plan. C2ES has led and will lead efforts to advocate for implementation of the Action Plan with businesses, stakeholders, and officials at the local, state, and federal levels. The emphasis has been on solutions to key challenges including harmonizing a regulatory framework nationwide, overcoming the consumer information gap, and optimizing public and private investments.

Current and Past Projects

Additional Resources

Brief: Volkswagen Settlement Funding: What Cities Should Know