Can we cut the carbon emissions from transportation in half by 2050?July 30, 2009
By Stephen Lee Davis
If we’re serious about reducing CO2 emissions, with nearly a third (28%) of our greenhouse gas emissions coming from the transportation sector, the question won’t be should we try to get cuts from transportation, but rather, what cuts can we get from transportation? Moving Cooler, a new report released this week by a collection of groups, studies that question in depth and demonstrates how we can clean the atmosphere while also reducing our oil dependency, expanding our options for living and getting around and making transportation more affordable overall.
T4 America is currently focused on making sure that a share of revenues generated by the climate bill will be directed into cleaner transportation choices, but there’s been some question about exactly which strategies and investments will be the best bet for getting the cuts we need to meet our ambitious targets.
Building on the 2008 release of Growing Cooler, which showed how increases in driving and population would wipe out gains in fuel mileage technology, Moving Cooler makes the case that we need to look beyond the idea that newer, more efficient cars or low-carbon fuels will be enough on their own to achieve the big reductions we’ll need to meet our targets. What other strategies can we employ to get there from here?
The report looks at “bundles” of different techniques for reducing emissions from transportation — like road pricing, intelligent transportation systems, increased public transportation, pay-as-you-drive insurance, and making walking and biking safer and more convenient, to name a few — and finds that we could cut transportation emissions by as much as 47 percent if we employed all the tools examined in Moving Cooler.
Implementing some of these strategies would help cut emissions, but also provide Americans with numerous other benefits.
Offering more good options for living and getting around while using less oil will reduce our individual and national vulnerability to disruptions in either the oil supply or the climate. Giving more people the opportunity to drive less to accomplish daily tasks is essential to any long-lasting strategy. The best message from this report is that we can increase personal choice and freedom without imposing unnecessary hardships.
Growing Cooler showed that people living in more efficient, less automobile dependent environments drive about a third less, on average. Meeting the growing demand for more housing and travel choices would reduce driving and become a significant factor in fighting climate change.
Moving Cooler shows how a combination of public investment and market forces can unleash the private sector to help reduce our carbon footprint and reduce oil dependency by giving people the types of transportation choices they are increasingly looking for.