Incorporating GHG Emissions in the Planning Process
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The public should be actively involved throughout the process - the public and other stakeholders have important roles in helping to achieve reducing GHG emissions from transportation. Involving the public up front and gaining their acceptance of the benefits of programs to mitigate climate change can provide continued support for policies and programs to address GHGs.
Although Federal regulations do not require analyzing GHG emissions as part of statewide or metropolitan transportation planning, many actions to address GHG emissions can be initiated at the state and regional level. GHG consideration can be incorporated into the transportation planning process. Transportation planners have many factors to consider when developing plans. Discussion of climate change is becoming more common in transportation planning documents. Many State DOTs and MPOs are recognizing the role that transportation policies and investments play in contributing to the emissions of GHGs and conversely, the potential impact of climate change on transportation systems. Some long-range transportation plans (LRTPs) in particular are highlighting climate change among a new generation of environmental and sustainability issues that shape transportation planning objectives.
Potential Points for Addressing GHG Emissions in the Planning Process
Source: Adapted from: FHWA, "Integrating Climate Change into the Transportation Planning Process," July 2008.
- Stakeholder identification and outreach. Transportation agencies can actively engage with state and local environmental agencies and other organizations involved in climate action planning.
- Establish a vision, goals, and objectives. State DOTs and MPOs can include GHG reduction as part of their vision for outcomes of the transportation system, as well as within goals or objectives in long-range plans.
- Define performance measures and data availability and needs. Within a performance-based planning process, a GHG performance measure may be selected to support goals related to environmental sustainability.
- Develop a baseline. Within the transportation planning process, a baseline inventory may be developed focusing on on-road sources.
- Develop alternative plan scenarios. Utilizing the GHG baseline, as well as any targets that are set, agencies identify alternative strategies or approaches for achieving objectives that will be incorporated in the long range transportation plan.
- Evaluate alternatives, select preferred alternative, and develop the LRTP and transportation improvement program (TIP). Agencies analyze alternative scenarios using the established goals, performance measures, and targets, to understand implications and select the alternative that best addresses system performance objectives and community goals. GHG emissions effects can be considered along with a wide range of other performance measures in order to assess tradeoffs, develop priorities for investments, and prioritize related policies and strategies.
- Monitor and evaluate effectiveness (feedback). Monitoring system performance over time and evaluating the effectiveness of implemented strategies across the various performance metrics, including ongoing analysis of the levels of GHG emissions, provides an important feedback that helps to inform the next cycle of transportation planning.