Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emission from Autos

In this section, you are asked to dome up with a plan to gradually change each of the factors in such a way that by 2012 the overall reduction of CO2 emissions from passenger cars will be 5% below the 1990 level.  (This is the target of the Kyoto Protocol, a plan for reducing CO2 emissions worldwide.) 

  1. Do you think it is important for nations to come up with a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions?
  2. How much do emission from passenger vehicles contribute to overall carbon dioxide emission?
  3. How much does the US contribute to overall emissions?
  4. You examined three different factors which contributed to CO2 emission from passenger vehicles: number of vehicles, average miles driven per vehicle and average fuel efficiency. Which factor do you think would have a trend least likely to change? most likely?
  5. If the amount of gasoline consumed is reduced by 5% will the amount of CO2 emitted also be reduced by 5%?


Retrieve the functions you constructed in the previous parts of this study. If you did not complete these sections or if you want to check you answers, click here.

Mathematical concepts and skills needed

For a brief review of each concept, click on the appropriate link.


Use the functions from the previous parts to answer these questions.

Determine the target consumption. 

  1. Determine the amount of gasoline that was consumed in 1990.
  2. Determine how much gasoline can be consumed if this figure is to be reduced by 5%. This is your target consumption for 2012.
  3. What are the coordinates of the point (t,G) for the target year with the target consumption?

Determine the current gasoline consumption.

  1. Determine the current gasoline consumption.
  2. What are the coordinate of the point (t,G) for the current year?

Describe the new trend.

  1. Write a linear function through the two points you determine above.
  2. This function gives targets for gasoline consumption for each year between now an 2012. Determine the targets for each year.

You have found a target for gasoline consumption that will reduce carbon dioxide emission from autos to 5% below the target level.

  1. Do you think it is possible to achieve this reduction?
  2. Which factor(s) do you think is most conducive to change?
  3. What would lead to those changes?
  4. What target for that factor(s) would achieve that change?
  5. Write a linear function for that factor. The function should pass through the two points corresponding to the current data and the target data.
  6. Determine the targets for your factor(s) between the current year and 2012.
  7. Experiment with changing a different factor or more than one factor.