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Summary Report: Peer Workshop on Integrating Climate Change into the Transportation Planning Process

Homework Responses: Albany Peer Workshop on Climate Change (Sep 08)

1. Is your state DOT or MPO addressing climate change issues (mitigation and/or adaptation) in the statewide or metropolitan transportation plan and overall planning activities?

Most participants are currently addressing climate change through mitigation. These mitigation activities include VMT per capita reductions and CO2/GHG emission measurements and reduction goals. Various participants are involved with steering committees or task forces to plan and mitigate climate change. Some DOT/MPOs are collaborating across states to plan for climate change mitigation. There were no responses about adapting to climate change impacts.

2. What are the most important strategies your MPO or state DOT is considering to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Many different high-priority strategies were listed:

3. Is your state DOT or MPO coordinating with other state and local planning and operating agencies (e.g., land use agencies, environmental agencies, transit agencies, DOT, MPO, neighboring states, etc.)?

While there were several entities listed, many participants noted that coordination/ collaboration could be increased and improved.

DOTs are collaborating with:

MPOs are collaborating with:

4. In your state or metro area, in general terms, to what extent are the public and elected officials aware of climate change and of state DOT and MPO efforts to reduce climate change risks and impacts?

Participants noted varying levels of awareness about climate change by the public and elected officials, although the majority cited that there was a limited awareness of these issues.

5. How much support and authority does your agency (DOT or MPO) have to develop strategies to deal with climate change?

About half of workshop participants indicated their agency has strong support and authority to develop climate change strategies, while half felt that their support and authority were more limited. There was not a significant difference between MPOs and DOTs response; they varied across both entities.

6. What efforts are you considering or have you initiated to develop public/elected official awareness and support?

Some participants are not currently developing increased awareness about climate change issues; these participants cited that there already exists a strong level awareness and support (see question 5).

Efforts to develop climate change awareness among the public and elected officials include various meetings: climate change key stakeholder meetings, planning and policy committee meetings, and lower-level and higher-level agency committee meetings.

One MPO participant noted that there are plans to develop awareness through addressing "energy independence" in the long range planning process, which needs approval from local officials as well as public comment. This participant noted that while the MPO benefits from wide policy latitude, the actual effectiveness of any policy-driven program will invariably be constrained by fix-it first capital programming.

7. To what extent have you engaged the public in climate change planning?

Both MPO and DOT participants cited various levels of public engagement in the climate change planning process (two with strong engagement, five with limited engagement, and three with no engagement).

8. Do any obstacles (e.g., public awareness and support, funding, technical ability, staffing constraints, adequacy of information, institutional coordination & communication, etc.) affect your ability to address and integrate climate change into your plans and planning process?

Only one participant (MPO) stated that obstacles are not affecting the ability to address and integrate climate change into the planning process.

Both MPOs and DOTs cited funding as a large barrier to integrating climate change considerations into the planning process. Current budget/revenue crises are the focus of concern, diverting energy away from climate change planning. Both MPOs and DOTs also indicted that staffing restraints are an obstacle.

Other participants mentioned that there are technical barriers that impede the planning process. A general lack of adequate and consistent information and data about climate change can be an obstacle to planning. Integrating climate change into the myriad of other priorities can be very challenging as well.

Leadership was cited as another obstacle. Participants noted that authority figures exist within agencies who to do not consider climate change issues to be a top priority or they are not aware of the severity of the issue. However, disaggregate information and control can decrease the ability to have a central mission that considers climate change an essential priority. The ideal is to have strong leadership throughout an agency that supports a central mission of integrating climate change considerations into planning processes.

Finally, lack of education and understanding by the public and elected officials was indicated to be an obstacle. Public outreach and education can help change the lack of acknowledgement/awareness on climate change issues.

9. What sources of information on climate change have you found to be particularly valuable?

10. Which of the following types of support or activities would you find most valuable to assist in your climate change planning efforts

Highest ranked by participants:

Moderate priority rankings:

Lower priority rankings:

Other suggestions:

11. What is your objective(s) for this workshop? What do you hope to learn or discuss?

Updated: 03/27/2014
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