Report: Transportation Without Carbon Pollution is Necessary and Achievable

Media Contacts
Heather Leibowitz

Environment New York

New York, NY—From electric vehicles, to carsharing, to smartphone apps to plan travel, a variety of new tools can help make transportation systems in our cities carbon-free, a new report said today.

The study from Frontier GroupA New Way Forward: Envisioning a Transportation System without Carbon Pollution, shows that America has the tools and strategies it needs to eliminate carbon pollution from urban, light-duty transportation by 2050 — a likely prerequisite for meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement and preventing the worst impacts of global warming.

“A decade ago, the world had not yet heard of the iPhone, the first Tesla hadn’t hit the roads, and driverless cars were sci-fi fantasies,” said Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst at Frontier Group, who co-authored the report with Alana Miller. “Today, those and other technologies and social forces are opening new opportunities for building urban transportation systems that can move us toward a stable climate.”

Joe Romm, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and founder of Climate Progress, and Kate Zyla, deputy director of the Georgetown Climate Center, joined Environment America and Frontier Group today in the District of Columbia for a presentation and discussion of the report.

The paper identifies eight elements of the “new transportation toolbox” – from new tools such as shared mobility to long-standing strategies such as smarter land use – and offers how those tools can be combined synergistically to transform the transportation system in ways that curb carbon pollution and address other key challenges facing our urban areas.

Because cities face different challenges and opportunities, they may choose different paths to a zero-carbon transportation system. The report explores four alternative pathways to decarbonization – from a focus on transit and compact land use to an embrace of shared fleets of autonomous cars operated on a managed highway network – and applies them to recognizable types of U.S. urban areas. 

The transportation sector creates over a quarter of the country’s global warming pollution, and road emissions from urban areas account for about half of the sector’s total.

“Every day the news about global warming’s impacts gets worse, but the news about technological advances in clean transportation gets better,” said Heather Leibowitz, Director of Environment New York. “We can and we must chart a new way forward for a transportation future that will protect our kids’ health and the planet.”