Pollution from our nation’s cars, buses, trucks and trains are taking America dangerously off track to meeting climate goals, according to a new report written by Frontier Group and released by Environment New York Research & Policy Center. 50 STEPS TOWARD CARBON-FREE TRANSPORTATION: Rethinking U.S. Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming concludes that 21st century transportation policy must quickly shift to new priorities, guided by a central goal of curbing climate-altering carbon pollution.
Just last week in New York, Governor Cuomo took a step in the right direction by announcing a contract for the installation of 300 electric vehicle charging stations at public locations across New York.
“Our daily commutes are cooking the planet, but they don't have to. We have the technology and skilled workforce to build cleaner cars and the tools to give Americans cleaner choices for getting from point A to point B,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “Governor Cuomo is making progress here, but he should keep supporting cleaner cars, invest in more public transit, and foster communities that enable people to walk and bike safely. We have solutions, now we just need the right policies to make it happen.”
The planet right now is the hottest it has been in 115,000 years. Increasingly severe weather events, like Hurricane Matthew, underscore the importance of reducing carbon pollution that fuels global warming. Transportation is the leading cause of global warming pollution in the country and America’s transportation system produces more carbon pollution per capita than any other country. Yet, many of the nation’s existing transportation policies are a roadblock to critical climate goals.
In New York, transportation makes up 41% of global warming emissions. To get on the right track, New York will need to continue to shift its transportation policies.
"We have to act quickly to reinvent our transportation systems to prevent the worst effects of global warming, and New York is in a position to offer real leadership to the nation on this issue,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan). "Just as California’s courageous and forward-looking moves to impose carb standards led to widespread changes in auto manufacturing, New York can make the changes in our transportation systems that create a path for the rest of the nation to follow."
“America’s transportation policies were created generations ago, when few people understood the implications of global warming. Now we do understand – and our approach to transportation must change,” said Tony Dutzik, Senior Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and author of the report. “The good news is that we have an ever-growing set of tools – including technologies that we couldn’t have imagined even a decade ago – that can put us on a path to zero-carbon transportation, if we get the policy right.”
The report highlights existing policies – from excessive spending on highway expansion to outdated rules that hamper transportation innovations – that hold America back in the fight against global warming. It also proposes 50 common-sense policy solutions that can reduce the risk of global warming and benefit communities across the country by incentivizing alternatives to driving, supporting the growth of walkable communities, and ensuring that all cars on the road are as clean as possible.
Among the policy solutions proposed in the report are the following:
- Putting low-carbon transportation options at the front of the line for public funding.
- Phasing out polluting vehicles and fuels through stronger fuel efficiency standards and electric cars.
- Supporting the creation of climate-friendly communities, allowing every New Yorker safe and easy access to public transit, biking and walking.
- Fostering innovation to create opportunities for new transportation options, like car sharing and other forms of shared mobility.
Environment New York is already working to shift away from dirty power and towards clean renewable energy like wind and solar. When it comes to transportation, New York needs to provide more alternatives to driving by supporting walkable and bikeable communities, connecting our cities with high-speed rail, and cleaning up the cars we do drive by strengthening vehicle fuel standards and transitioning our cars from oil to 100% clean renewable electricity.
“To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, we’ll have to nearly eliminate emissions from transportation by mid-century,” said Leibowitz. “Bad decisions we make today about our transportation infrastructure could lock in pollution for decades. That’s why we must quickly pivot to new priorities. We need a clean transportation revolution, with clean and accessible mobility options for every resident of New York.”
Environment New York and other advocates urged state and federal decision-makers to move forward with climate-friendly transportation.
“We all know we need to cut carbon pollution from transportation and now we have a roadmap to get us there,” said Leibowitz. “With new ways to get around our cities, better public transit, cars that are cleaner than ever before, and electric cars fueled with sun and wind, every day paints a clearer picture of a zero-carbon transportation future. Governor Cuomo needs to adopt these recommendations and keep leading the transition to clean transportation. It makes sense for our climate, our health, and New York.”