Within hours of August’s historic Louisiana storm, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determined that global warming made record flooding 40 percent more likely. Wildfires in the West are “burning longer and stronger” due to global warming, and higher ocean temperatures strengthened Hurricane Matthew, causing more devastation and destruction throughout the Caribbean and Southeastern United States.
Global warming is fueling extreme weather and taking its toll on people and the environment around the world. Here in the U.S., we see more extreme weather like heat waves, droughts, floods, and unhealthy air quality because of global warming. We know that to avoid the worst impacts of global warming and meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, the U.S. will need to cut overall global warming pollution by more than 80 percent by mid-century, starting with our number one source, transportation.
Transportation is now America’s leading source of carbon dioxide pollution, having surpassed power plants. As a nation, we produce more transportation-related carbon pollution per person than any other country.
The tools to transition to carbon-free transportation are already here. In fact, we already see several cities and states leading the way with technology and innovation:
In Colorado, local governments launched a program for Electric Vehicles that has put more than 300 electric cars and 80 electric bikes on the road since mid-2015.
In Portland, Oregon, city residents welcomed the largest car-free bridge in the United States, carrying pedestrians, buses, streetcars, light rail, and more than 615,000 cyclists over the Willamette River.
Cities from Nashville to Los Angeles to Seattle have unveiled public transportation investment proposals, hoping to reorient future development away from car-oriented sprawl, while other cities are restructuring bus networks and exploring new tools for connecting people to transit.
With more threatening extreme weather events inevitably ahead of us, we cannot afford to wait. Cutting carbon pollution from transportation must be a priority. Americans across the country are at risk, and we need to do more to reduce the impacts of climate change.
Fortunately, we are on our way there. Countries representing 55 percent of the world’s global warming pollution, including the U.S., have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. This agreement sets a target of limiting global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius, with an aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Although the bar is set high, we have the roadmap to get started. With smart strategies, we can strengthen our fuel economy standards, make biking and walking safer and easier, and optimize our public transit. Along with emission reductions from other sectors, transforming the transportation sector is critical to reducing carbon pollution enough to fulfill the promise we made in Paris.
To learn about all the ways we can make the vision of a zero-carbon transportation future a reality, check out our report: 50 Steps to Carbon-Free Transportation.
TAKE ACTION: With less than 100 days left in the Oval Office, we need President Obama to act, right now. We are calling on the president to cut carbon pollution from transportation, America’s top source of carbon emissions. Will you add your name?