Today Environment Texas joined with dozens of other community groups and leaders in announcing the new Transit for Austin coalition. Here were my remarks at the kickoff event.
A week and a half ago hundreds of Austin students walked out of school to join with millions of people across the planet to demand urgent action to tackle the climate crisis and help preserve a livable planet for their futures. We must heed their call.
Transportation is this country’s number one source of climate change pollution. Greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles surpasses every other source. We can’t solve global warming without changing how Americans get around.
Austin is a national leader in the fight against climate change. More than half of our electricity comes from wind and solar, our homes are built efficiently, and we’re rolling out curbside compost pickup.
But the truth is we’re far behind other cities on cleaning up our transportation sector.
Despite the disagreement and dysfunction at the federal level, we have a great opportunity in Central Texas to transform our transportation.
Public transportation reduces driving and thereby reduces emissions. On average, public transportation produces half the greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles. As Austin is converting to all electric buses, the pollution reduction will be even greater.
It’s been shown that public transportation can also facilitate trip chaining, which further reduces driving and emissions. That is when folks combine dry-cleaning pick-ups, shopping, and other errands on the way home from a station.
A report by Cambridge Systematics found that combining public transportation with better land use could reduce U.S. transportation greenhouse gas as much as 15%.
Environment Texas is excited to be a member of Transit for Austin. And we are honored to join hands with everyone here today to create a regional transportation system that will move our citizens and protect our environment.
Executive Director, Environment Texas
As the executive director of Environment Texas, Luke is a leading voice in the state for clean air, clean water, clean energy and open space. Luke has led successful campaigns to win permanent protection for the Christmas Mountains of Big Bend; to compel Exxon, Shell and Chevron Phillips to cut air pollution at three Texas refineries and chemical plants; and to boost funding for water conservation, renewable energy and state parks. The San Antonio Current has called Luke "long one of the most energetic and dedicated defenders of environmental issues in the state." He has been named one of the "Top Lobbyists for Causes" by Capitol Inside, received the President's Award from the Texas Recreation and Parks Society for his work to protect Texas parks, and was chosen for the inaugural class of "Next Generation Fellows" by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at UT Austin. Luke, his wife, son and daughters are working to visit every state park in Texas.