New report provides roadmap for Pennsylvania to achieve carbon-free transportation

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Kelly Flanigan

Numerous policies are available to reach ‘destination: zero carbon’

PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Philadelphia, PA – While poll after poll shows growing support from Pennsylvanians for tackling climate change, many concerned citizens don’t realize that transportation is the second-largest source of climate pollution in the state. But a new report from PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group describes how Pennsylvania can build a zero-carbon transportation future — all while cleaning our air and creating safer, healthier communities.

Entitled Destination: Zero Carbon: Three strategies to transform transportation in America, the report looks at the factors underlying high pollution levels from the transportation sector, and proposes policy solutions. Americans drive more than 10,000 miles a year on average, often in inefficient gas-burning vehicles. Poor public transit and unsafe conditions for walking or biking leave many Pennsylvanians with few good low-carbon transportation options.

This report is particularly relevant right now in Pennsylvania because the commonwealth is currently considering joining the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), a program being developed by a coalition of states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The initiative would drive the adoption of strategies outlined in the report, such as cleaner vehicles and improved public transportation. The comment period for the Transportation and Climate Initiative, which will help reduce climate pollution and build a modern, clean transportation system, will end on Feb. 28.

“Pennsylvania’s transportation system is due for a zero-carbon upgrade,” said Kelly Flanigan, Global Warming Solutions Associate with PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center. “With clean, electric cars and buses, and safe streets for walking and biking, we can take a big bite out of Pennsylvania’s contribution to global warming. This report shows how it can be done.” 

The report outlines three goals that are achievable with proven policies and existing technology. These objectives can help eliminate emissions from cars and light trucks and contribute to America’s transition to a zero-carbon transportation future. They are:

  • All new light-duty cars and trucks sold after 2035 should be electric vehicles (EVs).

  • U.S. transit agencies and school districts should replace all transit and school buses with clean electric buses by 2030.

  • The U.S. should at least double the number of people who travel by foot, bike or transit by 2030.

“Global warming demands that we set ambitious goals to get off fossil fuels — including ones for our cars and trucks,” said Gideon Weissman, Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “Luckily, we now have the technology and the tools to meet those goals — from advanced zero-emission electric vehicles to proven policies that can help Americans drive less and live more.”

Along with policy recommendations, the report also highlights state and local governments around the country already taking action to create a more sustainable transportation system. For example, SEPTA announced a purchase of 25 new electric buses in June of last year and the Port Authority of Allegheny County announced a $1.9 million grant in July that will be used to purchase electric buses.

“Pennsylvania should step up to the climate challenge and re-imagine transportation,” said Flanigan. “From Philly to Pittsburgh, we can envision a better, carbon-free way to get around. It is a future that we must achieve if we want to make our state a healthy and clean place for future generations.”


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