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

Global Climate Change & Transportation: State of the Practice

Cynthia Burbank
National Planning and Environment Practice Leader
Parsons Brinckerhoff

Climate Change Workshop for MPOs and DOTs
October 27, 2008
Seattle, WA

Disclaimer: Much of the information presented is based on PB work for NCHRP 20-24(59). Contractor's work is in progress and is not a NCHRP report nor does it represent the panel's views. The NCHRP work is intended to inform AASHTO members' policy-development discussions and does not include making recommendations on matters of policy.

GHG Targets Are Daunting

Climate scientists 80% below 1990 by 2050
California, Montana, Florida 80% below 1990 by 2050
Oregon 75% below 1990 by 2050
Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island 75-85% below 2001 by 2050
Colorado 80% below 2005 by 2050
New Mexico 75% below 2000
Climate Security Act (Lieberman-Warner) S.2191 Up to 66% below current levels by 2050
Global Warming Reduction Act (Kerry-Snowe) S.485 62% below 1990 by 2050
Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act (McCain-Lieberman) S.280 60% below 1990 by 2050
United Kingdom 60% below 1990 by 2050

Transportation is 28% of .U.S. GHG – and Rising

Transportation is 28% of U.S GHG—and Rising: This graph indicates U.S. greenhouse gas contributions by economic sector over a 15 year period from 1990 to 2005. Electricity generation is the largest GHG contributor and has grown from less than 2,000 tons of CO2 in 1990 to almost 2,500 tons in 2005. The transportation sector has grown from 1,500 tons of CO2 in 1990 to slightly less than 2,000 tons in 2005. The U.S. industry sector contributed that same amount of GHG as transportation in 1990 (at 1,500 tons of CO2) but has decline in the last 15 years to less than 1,400 tons CO2. US Agriculture CO2 emissions have stayed fairly consistent over the past 15 years, at slightly over 500 tons of CO2 per year. The commercial and residential energy use has also remained constant at just under 500 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

Highway Vehicles Account for 78% of Transportation C02 Emissions

U.S. Transportation Carbon Emissions by Mode, 2004 (Million metric tons CO2)

Heavy Vehicles, 350; Air, 171, Rail, 43; Waterborne, 58; Pipeline/Other, 47; International/Bunker, 84; Light Vehicles, 1113

Many States Are Developing Aggressive Climate Action Plans

State and Local Participation in Selected Climate Change Initiatives


Preparred by the Commission on Energy and Commerce staff - February 2008

State Climate Action Plans – Transportation Elements are All over the Map

State Year Vehicle Low Carbon Fuels Smart Growth and Transit Other
AZ 2020 40% 7% 25% 28%
CA 2020 54% 6% 38% 2%
CO 2020 40% 26% 22% 13%
MT 2020 61% 24% 8% 7%
NM 2020 31% 21% 16% 31%
OR 2025 80% 14% 6% 0%
WA 2020 8% 23% 64% 5%
MN 2025 15% 35% 25% 25%
NC 2020 35% 12% 38% 15%
SC 2020 14% 55% 29% 1%
CT 2020 51% 38% 8% 2%
ME 2020 53% 25% 21% 1%
MD 2025 24% 12% 45% 20%
NY 2020 59% 11% 27% 4%
PA 2025 45% 36% 18% 0%
RI 2020 46% 10% 31% 14%
VT 2028 21% 14% 49% 17%
State and Local Participation in Selected Climate Change Initiatives: The map shows states highlighted in greed that have GHG emission targets and are participating in the Climate Registry. These states are focused in the Northeast (excluding Pennsylvania) and the West Coast, including Arizona and New Mexico. The other states included are Florida, Illinois, and Minnesota. States highlighted in blue are participating in the Climate Registry but do not have GHG emission targets. These states make up the entire res of the Western US, the entire southeast with exception of West Virginia, and many central US states. States that are not part of the Climate Registry and do not have statewide GHG reduction targets are: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The map also shows dots on cities participating in the U.S. Mayors Climate Change Initiative, which are dispersed throughout county, even in states which are not part of the Climate Registry or do not have GHG emission targets. The one state with no activity is North Dakota.

Transportation GHG Reduction is a Four-legged Stool

The 3-legged stool:

  • Vehicles
  • Fuels
  • VMT

The 4th leg:

  • Vehicle/System Operations
Drawing of a 4-legged stool with "GHG Reductions from Transportation" on the seat. Text on each leg: Vehicles, Fuels, VMT, Vehicle/System Operations

1st & 2nd Legs: Vehicles & Fuels

3rd Leg: VMT

Slowing U.S. VMT growth to 1% annually may be necessary to meet GHG targets

3rd Leg: VMT: Bar graph showing alternative scenarios for US light duty vehicle 2060 CO2 emissions. Y-Axis is million metric tons of CO2. 2005 emissions levels were 1210 million metric tons of CO2. Four scenarios are presented, the first two based on a 100 miles per gallon gasoline equivalency fleet. Scenario one had 1% annual VMT growth resulting in the lowest CO2 emissions at 377 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 2 was based on 1.5% annual growth in VMT, at 471 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 3 and 4 were based on a 50 mile per gallon gasoline equivalency fleet. Scenario 3, with a 1.0% annual VMT growth was projected to emit 760 million metric tons of CO2. Scenario 4, with 1.5% annual VMT growth, resulted in 949 million metric tons of CO2.

4th Leg: Vehicle/System Operations

10-20% LDV GHG reduction potential:

Other Strategies: Federal Cap and Trade Legislation

S.2191 (Lieberman-Warner):

Other Strategies: Pricing

Other Strategies: Land Use

-- "Growing Cooler" by ULI, CCAP, et al, 2007

Other Strategies: Transit

Transit serves 1% of PMT and 0% freight in the U.S.

APTA: Transit reduced GHG by 6.9 MMT in 2005* (1/3 of 1% of U.S. transportation GHG)

European Ministers of Transport caution:

"Modal shift policies are usually weak in terms of the quantity of CO2 abated .... Modal shift measures can be effective when well targeted, particularly when integrated with demand management measures. They can not, however, form the corner-stone of effective CO2 abatement policy....."

* APTA includes 3.0 MMT reduction for transit's effect on congestion reduction

Cost Effective Strategies are Crucial – Now More than Ever

How much will it cost to Reduce GHG? GHG reduction opportunities widely distributed – 2030 mid-rage case, McKinsey and Company: The chart shows the Y-axis as the cost in real 2005 dollars per ton of CO2 emissions (abatement costs). The Y-axis ranges from -230 dollars to 100 dollars per ton of CO2. The X-Axis shows potential gigatons per year of CO2. The chart shows that abatement options are widely spread across the chart, ranging from almost no potential emission reductions to a potential of over 3 gigatons per year of CO2 emissions. About 40% of the abatement could be achieved at “negative” marginal costs, where the savings over the lifecycle of these options would more than pay for the investment. These investments include fuel economy packages, residential building lighting, and commercial electronics, yet these options have a lower reduction potential. Investments above marginal cost include commercial building equipment efficiency, biomass power, and reforestation. While the marginal cost is higher, these investments indicate a greater potential to reduce emissions.

Comprehensive policies could cut U.S. transportation GHG in half by 2030.

-- David Greene and Andreas Schaefer, for Pew Center

David Greene and Andreas Schaefer, for Pew Center. Sources of Transportation GHG Reductions, 2015 and 2030: The Y-axis represents the total sum of components in percentages. The components are: information, systems, infrastructure, pricing, carbon cap, hydrogen, low-carbon fuels, air efficiency, heavy duty truck efficiency, and light duty vehicle (LDV) efficiency. In 2015, the largest contributors to GHG reductions are LDV efficiency, pricing, and a carbon cap. By 2030, the largest areas are projected to be LDV efficiency, pricing, carbon cap, infrastructure, low-carbon fuels, and hydrogen.

European Council of .Ministers of Transport (2006)

Climate Adaptation Is as Important as GHG Reduction

Updated: 12/23/2016
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