Carbon pollution from oil will decline 14% in 2011 from its 2005 peak year total, according to EIA data. The oil carbon clock has been setback to 1996 levels.
In 2005 oil consumption in the USA produced a record 2628 million metric tons of carbon pollution, but 2011 levels will fall approximately 330 million metric tons from the 2005 total to about 2295 million metric tons. Oil accounted for 2290 million metric tons in 1996.
Increases in gasoline and heating oil prices are driving both greater efficiency in using oil and substituting especially lower carbon natural gas and biofuels for oil. Now electric vehilces are just emerging as another powerful substitute for oil, with my sister who has ordered a Volt as an example of a rapidly changing auto consumer and marketplace.
Will this trend continue? Yes, if oil stays above $80 per barrel and the odds of it doing so are high. Indeed, probabilities are significant that oil will trade consistently above $110 for the next 10 years. Oil pricing that high will boost electric vehicles, in addition to CNG, biofuels, and efficiency.
Advances in technology and so called tight or unconventional oil production do create a new scenario where oil prices are not pressured by demand consistently pressing against supply limits. The odds of super high oil prices in the $200 range within a few years that were considerable in 2008 have declined in 2011 as a result of technology advances.