Calling for a total revamp of the nation's transportation policy towards one driven by the need to avert climate disaster, a new report published Monday lays out 50 steps the U.S. can take to reach a carbon-free system.
Currently, the transportation system is "Climate Enemy #1," the new publication released by Environment America and authored by think tank Frontier Group, states. That's because "Over the course of the last century, the United States has built an intricate system of public policies that have had the effect of requiring most Americans to own and use a fossil fuel-powered car for most of their daily transportation," the report states.
But a "bold new vision" is clear: one where vehicles no longer spew out more carbon pollution than any other source in the nation, and, in a noted change, where climate-friendly transportation and communities are fostered through state and federal policies—and investment.
"Many of America's transportation policies that we rely on today were designed to bring us out of the horse-and-buggy era," said report author Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst with Frontier Group. "They worked a century ago, but they are no match for climate change—in fact, they're holding us back in the fight against global warming."
"We need a policy roadmap to 100 percent clean transportation," he added.
Among the 50 steps noted in the report: removing barriers to low-carbon transportation investments; ensuring that fees charged for motor vehicle use meet or exceed the full societal costs imposed by driving; fostering regional and public-private collaborations to encourage adoption of electric vehicles; expanding renewable energy production.; and encouraging early adoption of electric vehicles among low-income users.
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Promising signs can already be seen. The report notes, for example, that
In Indianapolis, city leaders converted excess street space into an award- winning "cultural trail" for cyclists and pedestrians that connects the city's cultural districts. Indianapolis is also the site of the nation's first all-electric, station-based carsharing program: BlueIndy.
The report concludes that "A zero-carbon transportation system is within our reach by mid-century—if we lay the groundwork for it now by reforming transportation policy."
"We have solutions," said Environment America's global warming solutions director, Anna Aurilio, "now we need our leaders to make it happen."