Pollution from our nation’s cars, buses, trucks and trains is taking America dangerously off track to meeting climate goals, according to a new report written by Frontier Group and released by Environment Maine 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.
“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 Andrew LaVogue, Campaign Organizer for Environment Maine “ Governor LePage should support 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.
“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The report highlights existing policies -- from excessive spending on highway expansion to outdated rules that hamper transportation innovations -- that hold America back in the fight against global warming.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 Mainer 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.
“This report offers dozens of important policy considerations for reducing carbon emissions from single occupancy vehicles, while incentivizing more sustainable modes. The authors identify many strategic leverage points within our complex transportation system. Given that our transportation system spans urban and rural environments, as well as public and private sectors, it will take a coordinated effort among various stakeholders to address the issue. “Said Aaron Witham, The Assistant Director for Sustainable Programs at USM.
He followed “The University of Southern Maine aims to do its part by researching, promoting, and modeling sustainable transportation options across its three campuses, as part of its carbon neutrality plan. USM signed the national, higher education initiative known as the President’s Carbon Commitment in 2007, setting a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2040.”
Environment Maine is already working to shift away from dirty power and towards clean renewable energy like wind and solar. When it comes to transportation, Maine 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 percent clean renewable electricity.
Environment Maine 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. 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. Our political leaders need to adopt these recommendations and lead the transition to clean transportation. It makes sense for our climate, our health, and Maine”
Environment Maine is an environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener healthier future. www.Environmentmaine.org