States must step up efforts to reduce harmful carbon emissions

As of last September, 16 states and Puerto Rico approved legislation requiring reductions in greenhouse emissions. The White House also set ambitious goals of cutting emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels in 2030. They aim to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. Contributing to 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., the transportation sector is now the top producer and accounts for a growing portion each year. More than half of these emissions (57%) come from personal vehicles such as cars, SUVs, and light-duty trucks. Progress in cutting those emissions has been slow, let alone efforts to measure and track them. 

State DOTs are key players in cutting transportation emissions

Through a combination of carrots and sticks—but mostly carrots—the federal government has encouraged state DOTs to take ambitious steps to lower the environmental impacts of transportation and to invest in more sustainable travel options. Two years into the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), notes Adie Tomer at Brookings, it is still hard to know the impacts. Many states are still operating under the status quo. Others, however, including many SSTI partners, are seizing the opportunity to bolster ongoing local sustainability initiatives. 

Many are optimistic about the decarbonization blueprint

The Biden administration’s newly released National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization represents an historic mission alignment among federal agencies to meet an economy-wide goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 2050. The U.S. Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, have developed this joint strategy to guide the decarbonization of the transportation sector—the largest GHG contributor, currently generating roughly one-third of U.S. emissions. 

Major American automakers eying SUVs over electric vehicles

Transitioning to electric power has been a major focus of state and local agencies trying to meet ambitious emissions reduction goals. That involves rolling out more charging stations, bolstering the grid, and offering incentives for drivers to go electric; but consumers will also need plenty of cars to choose from. American-made options, however, are going to be limited.

Nine states and DC move forward on transportation carbon pricing alliance

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, announced Tuesday that they would design a joint climate strategy over the next year and then put it up for state-by-state adoption. The policy will, according to the joint announcement, “reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each … jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.”

Nine states and DC move forward on transportation carbon pricing alliance

Nine Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, announced Tuesday that they would design a joint climate strategy over the next year and then put it up for state-by-state adoption. The policy will, according to the joint announcement, “reduce carbon emissions from the combustion of transportation fuels through a cap-and-invest program or other pricing mechanism, and allow each … jurisdiction to invest proceeds from the program into low-carbon and more resilient transportation infrastructure.”

Seattle's parking reforms

The Seattle City Council passed a number of parking reforms earlier this month to further support the city’s ongoing efforts to become less car-oriented, advance local climate change goals, and reduce housing costs in the city. Seattle is one of many cities to recognize that its parking regulations are outdated, but one of relatively few to take major steps toward reform.

State DOTs and MPOs develop adaptive strategies with help of climate change pilot program grants

Recent severe weather events have levied significant damage on transportation systems in states across the country. Many states, particularly those recently affected, are paying attention to the climate-related vulnerabilities in their transportation systems. Some are using grant money from FHWA to complete analysis on how to respond to the changes and how to build a more resilient system.

Who Pays for Climate Change? (National Resources Defense Council, 2013)

U.S. taxpayers outspend private insurers three-to-one to cover climate disruption costs. Paying for climate disruption was one of the largest non-defense discretionary budget items in 2012. Private insurers themselves only covered about 25 percent of these costs, leaving the federal government and its public insurance enterprises to pay for the majority of the remaining claims.