By Ben Crowther
Concerned about climate? Support walking as a form of transportation? For two more days, you can champion both by telling Secretary Buttigieg you support the US Department of Transportation’s rule to require states and regions to track emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) from surface transportation and establish targets for cutting pollution.
Transportation Linked to Climate
Transportation is the largest source of GHG emissions in the United States, representing 27 percent of the nation’s emissions in 2020. This comes as little surprise, considering the billions of dollars we funnel into our roads and highways every year. Only by tracking these emissions can we begin to understand and address the long-term impact that transportation investments are having on our communities and our climate.
At the same time, when lowering GHG emissions becomes a priority, transportation and planning departments will naturally pursue projects that reduce the need to drive and put more destinations within walking distance. Transportation funding that big roads and highways would have consumed can now be used to build a comprehensive network of sidewalks or safe and protected bike routes.
The most recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores the need for swift action on GHG emissions. It also highlights the importance of transportation investments that allow people to get to jobs and services by walking as a key strategy in fighting climate change, with the potential to reduce transport-related fuel consumption by ~25%. Transportation agencies that measure GHG emissions will better understand how to invest in inexpensive transportation solutions that don’t exacerbate climate change, like walking and biking.
The Time is Now
This rule is an important first step to determining what sort of infrastructure projects help us meet our climate goals. The US Department of Transportation is accepting comments on the rule through October 13th.