Skip to Content
Climate change

Under the Trump administration’s plan to roll back fuel standards, emissions will soar

If the White House’s plan goes into effect, it would deliver one of the single most devastating blows to the effort to curb US greenhouse-gas emissions.

The policy: Now that the administration’s proposal is coming into sharper focus, we’re getting a clearer sense of just how much damage could be done. The Los Angeles Times reported recently that the draft plan is to freeze average vehicle fuel standards at 2020 levels of 42 miles per gallon, rather than ratcheting them up to 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

By the numbers: In an analysis published today, the Rhodium Group concluded that the policy shift would increase oil consumption by as much as 283,000 barrels per day in 2025, and 881,000 by 2035, under a scenario of low oil prices. That, in turn, would add up to 37 million metric tons of additional carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2025, and 114 million by 2035, the New York-based research firm found. (With high oil prices, those emissions figures would fall to 16 million and 32 million, respectively.)

Some context: Total US greenhouse-gas emissions in 2016 were equivalent to 6.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Stuck in the slow lane: The administration’s proposal would also revoke states’ ability to exceed federal mileage rules, as California has done under a waiver. A coalition of 18 states have already filed a lawsuit against the EPA, preemptively challenging such a change.

Deep Dive

Climate change

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

Radar and laser breakthroughs serve humanitarian ends

Innovations in directed-energy systems could save lives and aid disaster recovery.

This is where Tesla’s former CTO thinks battery recycling is headed

JB Straubel speaks about his company, Redwood Materials, and what challenges loom for batteries.

Why EVs won’t replace hybrid cars anytime soon

Plug-in hybrids won’t get the world to zero emissions, but they can help cut climate impacts somewhat. Toyota is betting they’ll stay in the mix for a while.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.