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Educating the Public on Climate Change Issues: DOT and MPO Best Practices

3. Metropolitan Planning Organization Efforts

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (Philadelphia Region)

Climate Change Initiatives

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) leads a Climate Change Initiatives program that supports and coordinates efforts in the region to reduce GHG emissions and to prepare for climate change. The program has four major tasks: conduct a regional GHG inventory and forecast; evaluate GHG reduction options and develop a regional Climate Change Action Plan through stakeholder engagement; integrate climate change and energy concerns throughout DVRPC activities; and, assist member governments with GHG emissions inventories and forecasts for their operations. The toolkit stems from this program and includes a Fleet Energy component to assist municipal managers in developing a comprehensive baseline and energy analysis for department fleets.

Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Toolkit

DVRPC's Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction Toolkit, with expected release in late 2010, will provide step-by-step guidance for identifying, prioritizing and implementing cost-effective strategies to reduce energy demand and curb GHG emissions in municipal operations. The Toolkit will help municipal managers develop a baseline energy analysis to answer the question, "Where should I start?" A key element of this tool will support efforts to compare costs and benefits of specific strategies and programs for reducing GHG emissions from municipal fleets. The Toolkit will draw on analysis carried out by the City of Philadelphia in developing and implementing Greenworks Philadelphia, the City's sustainability framework, released in spring 2009. The fleet tool will be a flow-based Excel spreadsheet that includes guidance, calculators and links to external resources, and is structurally similar to EPA's Office Carbon Footprint Tool (

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Metropolitan Transportation Commission (San Francisco Bay Area)

Transportation Climate Action Campaign

MTC's $400 million campaign focuses on public outreach and education efforts geared towards reducing the Bay Area's carbon footprint, and laying the groundwork for future climate change initiatives. The campaign also supports a suite of action-oriented programs, including workshops geared toward youth and public educational meetings co-hosted with local agencies, as well as supporting a region wide outreach and branding campaign aimed at reducing transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate Initiatives Public Outreach Program

In late 2009, MTC programmed $80 million over a three-year period to implement the Climate Initiatives Program. In partnership with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, MTC is developing a region-wide campaign for the Climate Initiatives Public Outreach Program to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions through a public education and branding campaign that will educate and encourage the public to make transportation choices that reduce GHG emissions. Specific campaign efforts are scheduled to be defined in mid-2010.

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K-12 Schools Climate Change Workshop

On May 29, 2009, participants in the Climate Change Workshop exchanged lessons learned on how best to "green" the Bay Area's schools, share resources centered on climate change education, and reach out to teachers, students and their families. Goals of the workshop were to identify ways to help promote climate change programs in schools and how to overcome barriers to educational efforts geared toward reducing GHG emissions in grades K-12.

About two dozen organizations and schools participated in the workshop in Oakland, California which was hosted by the Joint Policy Committee (comprised of the Association of Bay Area Governments, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Bay Conservation and Development Commission and MTC). Each organization shared information on how their program works, their funding sources, target audience, number of schools served, and upcoming plans to promote climate change education.

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Public Meeting: Bay Area Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target

On March 10, 2010, MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments co-hosted a two-hour public meeting together with the California Air Resources Board (CARB), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. The meeting provided the community with an opportunity to learn about and comment on options for setting a "target" or goal for reducing GHG emissions from cars and light trucks for the San Francisco Bay Area.

To reduce GHGs, a major goal set by state legislation, regions will be given specific targets by CARB to meet for reducing vehicle-related emissions. Senate Bill 375, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2008, requires that CARB set such a target by September 30, 2010. The meeting agenda included the following topics:

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Puget Sound Regional Council (Seattle Area)

Climate Change Technical Working Group

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) created a Climate Change Technical Working Group (TWG) in 2007 to discuss the analysis and technical needs of both PSRC and the participating agencies. The working group stemmed from the Council's efforts to incorporate the issues of climate change into its planning and project development processes. A major objective of the working group is to ensure regional consistency for the technical work and analytic methodologies being used, as well as coordination and collaboration among the Council's agencies. Over time, the objective of the committee has expanded to further assist and advise PSRC in its climate change work, including the preparation of a white paper on adaptation to climate change for long-range transportation planning. PSRC's climate change website is in process of being developed and will be the venue that houses the products developed by the working group.

The agencies represented on the committee include the Council's air-quality consultation partners such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department of Transportation, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, as well as other jurisdictions in the region who have been actively working on climate change. Jurisdictions include King County and the City of Seattle, as well as Sound Transit, the Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority.

Project-Level Transportation GHG Evaluation Protocol

The first product developed by the working group was a "Project-Level Transportation Greenhouse Gas Evaluation Protocol." This tool aims to assist project sponsors in determining when and how to conduct GHG emissions analyses at the project level, in the current absence of federal legislation and guidance.

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Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization (Mobile Area)

MPO Climate Change Work Group

The Mobile MPO has established a Climate Change Work Group to work with FHWA on a project called "Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2," which will run from approximately 2009 to 2012. This project is assessing the impact that climate change could have on critical transportation assets, and will determine how the MPO could begin addressing those impacts.
The Work Group is comprised of representatives from agencies overseeing various transportation modes, local environmental groups, and related stakeholders. The multidisciplinary group will provide vital input to the FHWA project, but will themselves also be educated on the study's findings related to likely climate change effects on Mobile; the impacts that those effects could have on local transportation; and how transportation decision makers can start weighing adaptation options. Research will assist in identifying critical transportation assets as well as the impacts that climate change could have on those assets. The Work Group is serving an important role in "ground-truthing" the project to make sure that the findings are specific to the Mobile area. The Work Group will also help ensure that the risk assessment and risk management tools developed under this project meet the needs of local transportation decision makers. The local participation of the Work Group will help ensure that the research approach and tools are replicable to other MPOs.

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Capitol Region Council of Governments (Hartford, CT Area)

Sustainable Capitol Region Initiative

The Capitol Region's Council of Governments (CRCOG) Sustainable Capitol Region initiative seeks to tie together work that is already being done within the CRCOG Community Development, Transportation and Public Safety and Homeland Security Departments toward creating more sustainable communities. The aim is to position the agency to take advantage of new federal programs, now under development, that would support sustainable community development and preservation activities, and climate change goals. Under this initiative, panels and conferences are given by the MPO for practitioners and the public which focus on the topic of sustainability, including climate change issues.

Municipal Summit on Climate Change

This summit took place on March 13, 2010 in New Haven, CT. The conference was organized by the Commissioner of Connecticut's Department of Environmental Studies. Those in attendance included chief elected local officials, other municipal employees and members of local sustainability and clean energy task forces. A series of workshops were provided on a variety of topics such as financing energy efficiency improvements; greener schools; and, reducing transportation emissions.

Regional planners from the CRCOG participated in the panel discussion, Regional Planning in an Era of Climate Change, which highlighted the MPO's current process of promoting sustainable communities. Regional planners discussed their efforts and their visions for the future. Panelists outlined new federal partnerships and opportunities supporting sustainable communities, showcased new efforts at the regional level toward reaching climate change goals, highlighted the products of regional partnerships toward promoting sustainability and provided a glimpse of what a comprehensive approach to sustainable development could look like on the ground in Connecticut's municipalities. For more summit details and information on climate change efforts in Connecticut, visit

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Mid-America Regional Council (Bi-state Kansas City Region)

Academy for Sustainable Communities - Climate Change Courses

The Academy for Sustainable Communities is a training program offered by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) that offers educational outreach programs (seminars, workshops, roundtable discussions, and speakers) to show how the Kansas City region can serve as a model of sustainability. Each program includes a strong educational component based on the concepts of smart growth and sustainability, with messages directed at a variety of groups and audiences, including local government and area communities. Interested agencies and citizens are invited to participate in MARC's climate change programs.

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Climate Change & Energy Use Policy Goal - Interactive Webpage for Public Rating

In order to encourage broad input from the community about the draft Transportation Outlook 2040 long-range plan, this webpage highlights the draft plan's new Climate Change & Energy Use goal and allows the public to rate the policy goal with a "thumbs-up" or "thumbs-down." There is also a comments sidebar where users can post comments regarding the Climate Change and Energy Use issue. The goal includes climate change strategies and challenges as outlined in the long-range plan. The objective of the policy is to decrease the use of fossil fuels through reduced travel demand, technology advancements, and a transition to renewable energy. MARC will use the policy goals to help select which transportation projects should be funded in the future.

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North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (Northern New Jersey Region)

Climate Change Working Group

This forum for concerned stakeholders allows participants to identify, support, and coordinate efforts in North Jersey to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the transportation system for climate change impacts on the environment. Participants share ideas, collaborate, and provide input to the transportation planning process. The Working Group's meetings are posted on a calendar on the Working Group's webpage.

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Climate Change Roundtable

Sponsored by the NJTPA, the event held on November 17, 2008 featured speakers from the federal government, transportation agencies, the tri-state area MPOs, universities, and non-profit advocacy groups to discuss how to 1) adapt infrastructure to deal with climate change impacts and 2) how to develop transportation policies to reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. A presentation was given, including a discussion of the elements of the Plan 2035, the NJTPA's long range plan, and then had a chance to ask questions of the panel of experts.

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Updated: 12/23/2016
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