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Transportation and State Climate Action Plans: What You Need to Know

FHWA Webinar March 25, 2010

Presentation Roadmap

  1. Overview of State Climate Action Plans
  2. Transportation Mitigation Strategies - Quantification Methods and Uncertainties
  3. Impacts and Adaptation
  4. Key Opportunities for Involvement

What is a Climate Action Plan?

Provides Distinct Strategies to Reduce GHG Emissions from Multiple Sectors

Typical Components

The Climate Action Plan in Context

State Climate Action Plans Typically ARE:

State Climate Action Plans Typically ARE NOT:

Status of State Climate Action Plans

Pie chart. Click image for text version.

Total Forecast State GHG Emissions (BAU)

Bar chart. Click image for source text.

Transportation Contribution to Total State GHG Emissions

Bar chart. Click image for source data.

GHG Reductions from Plan

Bar chart. Click image for source data.

Mitigation Strategies in 30 CAPs

Bar chart. Click image for source data.

Effectiveness of Individual Mitigation Strategies

Chart. Click image for source data.

Steps in Climate Action Plan Development (typical)

  1. Create Emission Inventory and Forecast (baseline)
    • By sector; may be done in advance
  2. Form Stakeholder Groups
    • Plenary group + 4-5 technical working groups
  3. Review "Catalog" of Potential Strategies
  4. Select Short List of Strategies for Evaluation
    • Typically 6-12
  5. Analyze GHG Impacts and Costs of Select Strategies
  6. Formulate Strategy Implementation Steps
  7. Calculate Combined Impact of All Plan Strategies
  8. Final Report


Part 2: Transportation Mitigation Strategies - Quantification Methods and Uncertainties

Real Impacts of CAP Strategies

Actual GHG Reductions Will Depend On:

Sources of Uncertainty Arise at Each Hurdle

Requirements for Enactment (Hurdle #1)

Requirements for Enactment (Hurdle #1)

Bar charts. Click image for source data.

Bar charts. Click image for source data.

External Factors Affecting Implementation (Hurdle #2)

Factor Source of Uncertainty for
Commercial Availability of Technology Alternative fuel and technology strategies
Local Government Action or Coordination Among Government Agencies Smart growth strategies, Infrastructure for bicycles, pedestrians, and transit
Market Forces Transportation pricing strategies, Transit strategies
Land Use Changes Smart growth strategies

Variabes that Determine Impact (Hurdle #3)

Variable Source of Uncertainty for
Affected population Anti-idling strategies
Market Penetration Most strategy types, except where penetration rate is mandated
Effectiveness Traffic Speed/Flow strategies, Smart growth strategies
Timing Strategies including large capital investments, such as Smart growth strategies, Transit strategies

Quantification Techniques

down arrow: Less certainty

  • Apply empirical results from studies of similar measures
  • Set a reduction goal, supported by a local feasibility study
  • Set a reduction goal, not supported by a local feasibility study

Smart Growth Strategies in CAPs

Key questions

Quantification approaches in sample states

Estimated reduction in VMT in sample states: 2% to 9%

Traffic Speed/Flow Strategies in CAPs

Traffic Smoothing

Speed Limits

Alternative Fuel Strategies in CAPs

Low Carbon Fuel Standards - mandated reduction in amount of carbon per unit of energy

Individual Alternative Fuels - goals for market share


Part 3: Impacts and Adaptation

State Climate Change Adaptation Plans

US map showing Alaska, Washington state, Oregon, California, New Hampshire, New Y ork, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Florida in green.

Source: Pew Center on Global Climate Change, "Adaptation Planning - What U.S. States and Localities are Doing", August 2009

Adaptation Working Groups

Image of California
  • Public Health
  • Biodiversity and Habitat
  • Ocean and Coastal Resources
  • Ocean and Coastal Resources
  • Water Management
  • Agriculture
  • Forestry
  • Transportation and Energy Infrastructure *
Image of Washington state
  • Build Environment, Infrastructure and Communities
  • Human Health, Safety and Welfare
  • Ecosystems, Species, Habitats
  • Natural Resources
Image of Alaska
  • Public Infrastructure *
  • Health & Culture
  • Natural Systems
  • Economic Activities
Image of Maryland
  • Existing Built Environment and Infrastructure
  • Future Built Environment and Infrastructure
  • Resource and Resource-based Industries
  • Human Health and Security

* Includes state DOT

Impact and Adaptation - Approaches

Vulnerability Assessment

Risk Assessment


Most state plans have not advanced beyond vulnerability

Adopted Strategies - Examples




Part 4: Key Opportunities for Involvement

6 Points Where Involvement is Important

  1. Formation of Stakeholder Groups
  2. Inventory and Forecast (Baseline)
  3. Selection of Strategies
  4. Strategy "Design"
  5. Quantification of Strategy Impacts
  6. Identification of Implementation Steps

1. Formation of Stakeholder Groups

Working groups make recommendations to a plenary group (CAT, CAG, etc.)

Transportation TWG usually includes the DOT and/or MPO

Plenary group does not usually include DOT or MPO

Flowchart of Technical Working Groups. Plenary Group in the center of a circle. Energy Supply, Resdential Commercial, Industrial, Cross-Cutting Issues,  Agriculture, Forestry, Waste. Transportation & Land Use. (Policy Recommendations to Plenary Group.)

2. Inventory and Forecast (Baseline)

Pay attention to growth factors for forecast years

On-road gasoline and diesel forecast based on VMT projections

  Little or no uncertainty High uncertainty
MMtCO2-eq               Growth Factors
  1990 1991 1993 ... 2003 2004 2005   2005-2010 2010-2015 2015-2020
Motor Gasoline 19.38 19.69 20.06 ... 23.83 24.10 23.74 1.1% 1.2% 0.8%
Onroad Distillate Fuel 4.05 4.24 4.75 ... 6.94 7.44 7.48 3.4% 3.4% 7.7%
Rail Distillate Fuel 0.84 0.72 0.57 ... 0.70 0.75 0.75 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Jet Fuel 8.06 7.79 8.98 ... 6.95 7.64 7.61 0.8% 0.5% 0.4%
Aviation Gasoline 0.11 0.09 0.10 ... 0.08 0.07 0.01 1.5% 1.4% 1.2%
Residual Fuel 2.54 2.65 2.65 ... 2.71 2.87 3.01 2.1% 2.1% 2.1%
Natural Gas 0.28 0.28 0.17 ... 0.37 0.49 0.47 16.7% 9.9% 5.9%
LPG 0.07 0.05 0.05 ... 0.02 0.02 0.02 8.7% 5.6% 4.7%

3. Selection of Strategies

Catalog of Policy Options (30-50 options)  1. Vehicle technology, 2. Vehicle operation, 3. Alternative fuels, 4. Smart growth, 5. Demand management, 6. System efficiency, 7. Non-road. (balloting) High Priority List (8-10 options). Analysis.

Multiple options may be "bundled" during or after balloting

Backtracking discouraged

4. Strategy "Design"

Numeric goals for strategy effectiveness


Quantification of GHG impacts often directly tied to design goal

5. Quantification of Strategy Impacts

Questions to consider when reviewing quantification

6. Identification of Implementation Steps

Recommendations for policy changes, new programs, etc.


Recommendations for implementation steps often overlooked


Updated: 12/23/2016
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