New Strategies for Reducing Transportation Emissions and Preparing for Climate Impacts

By Arroyo, Vicki; Zyla, Kathryn et al. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, August 2017 | Go to article overview

New Strategies for Reducing Transportation Emissions and Preparing for Climate Impacts


Arroyo, Vicki, Zyla, Kathryn, Pacyniak, Gabriel, Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction                                                  920 I. Background                                                 922 II. Federal and State Policies That Promote Zero-Emission     Vehicles                                                  930      A. Barriers to ZEV Deployment                            931      B. Vehicle Standards Are Critical But Insufficient       934      C. Opportunities for Additional Policy Support           936 III. Incorporating GHG Planning Into Transportation and Land     Use Decision-Making                                       941      A. The Importance of the Transportation Sector for         Meeting Economy-Wide GHG Targets                      941      B. Existing Transportation, Land Use, and Air Quality         Planning Frameworks                                   945      C. Challenges for Transportation Sector GHG Planning     946      D. Four Potential Transportation GHG Planning         Processes                                             950 IV. Mainstreaming Resilience Considerations Into     Transportation Decision-Making                            954 V. Integrating Emissions-Reduction and Transportation    Funding Strategies                                         963 Conclusion                                                    967 

INTRODUCTION

The transportation sector is becoming the largest source of greenhouse gas ("GHG") emissions in the United States. (1) This is already the case in many states, including those along the East and West Coasts. (2) The Obama Administration put in place federal vehicle and fuel standards that are significantly reducing emissions. However, these regulations will be insufficient to put the United States on track to achieve needed reductions needed long-term, per scientific findings and the Paris Agreement, which call for significant medium-term reductions and a long-term goal of decarbonizing our energy system before the end of the century. (3) This is especially true if the 2025 standards announced by the Obama Administration are rolled back by the new Trump Administration. (4)

Because current federal standards alone will not attain ambitious climate goals and may be rolled back, state and local activity is essential to make progress towards meeting emissions reduction goals. For example, financial and other incentives for adoption of clean vehicles can encourage more consumers to purchase electric vehicles. (5) Electrification of the transportation system, combined with a move to lower-carbon sources of electricity, can bring about the transformative change needed to curb climate change. (6)

In addition, transportation infrastructure (including roads, bridges, transit, ports, airports, and rail) is already compromised by climate change impacts such as increased heat, and more extreme weather events such as floods, storms, and rising seas. (7) Investments in infrastructure are generally based on past, static conditions and do not take into account current and future projections of climate change impacts. As a result, trillions of dollars in assets are vulnerable to the changes the United States is already experiencing and anticipating. (8) The news is not all grim. This Article highlights efforts--some already underway and some still needed--to promote strategies for a more sustainable, low-carbon future that also accounts for impacts to transportation infrastructure.

This Article focuses on four underappreciated strategies that will be critical to catalyzing a shift to a low-carbon, resilient transportation sector in the United States. First, federal vehicle and fuel standards should be complemented by federal and state strategies to promote the adoption of lower-emission and zero-emission vehicles. Second, it will be critical to develop tools and practices that integrate GHG reduction planning into transportation decision-making. Third, resilience to climate impacts should be incorporated into transportation planning and investments. …

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