Driving Down Emissions

Transportation, land use, and climate change

Driving Down Emissions

The urgency of the climate crisis demands it.

Driving Down Emissions explores how our land-use and transportation decisions are inextricably connected, and unpacks five strategies that can make a significant dent in the growth of emissions while building a more just and equitable society:

  • Getting onerous government regulations out of the way of providing more homes where people naturally drive less;
  • Making safety the top priority for street design to encourage more short trips;
  • Instituting GHG reduction and less driving as goals of the transportation system;
  • Investing heavily in other options for getting around, and;
  • Prioritizing access to destinations.

With transportation accounting for the largest share of carbon emissions in the U.S., we’ll never achieve ambitious climate targets or create more livable and equitable communities if we don’t find ways to allow people to get around outside of a car—or provide more housing in places where that’s already an option.

Yet it seems like climate-focused policymakers have a single-minded obsession with the silver bullet solution of everyone in America buying a brand new electric car. And they do this while completely ignoring an underlying system that requires everyone to drive further every year, kills people walking in record numbers, and creates communities that cuts people off from jobs and opportunities. We need a different set of solutions to pair with one day being able to convert our current gas-powered vehicle fleet to electricity.

This report shows that reducing emissions from transportation is entirely doable—which is a good thing, because there are other areas where making significant reductions will be far more difficult. While we have no idea how to completely electrify our fleet of vehicles or how long that transition will even take, we can absolutely lower emissions in a short timeframe by meeting the demand for more housing in smart locations—helping millions of Americans who want to live in places where they can emit less and drive less find ways to do so.

The urgency of the climate crisis demands it.

Download the full report here or by clicking the cover. 


Driving Down Emissions: Minnesota
The strategies outlined in Driving Down Emissions are just as important for policymakers at the state and local levels. We teamed up with our partners at Move Minnesota to produce this short case study. Minnesota has had some success reducing driving per capita in recent years, particularly compared to some of its peer states, but—as the national report shows—that progress will not be sufficient to address the urgent need for emissions reductions if the state stays on the same trajectory. Read the full case study here.