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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-11-004    Date:  May/June 2011
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-004
Issue No: Vol. 74 No. 6
Date: May/June 2011


Internet Watch

by Diane Turchetta

A Home for Transportation and Climate Change Resources

Addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are major policy issues worldwide. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2008, the transportation sector is responsible for 32 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the United States. Given this significant contribution to GHG emissions, reducing the transportation sector's fossil fuel use represents an important component of Federal, State, and local efforts to cut emissions.

There is an additional reason for the transportation sector to be concerned about climate change: potential impacts on operations and infrastructure. Increases in temperature, sea level rise, and the intensity and number of storms could have serious impacts on the transportation network. For example, sea level rise could damage infrastructure in low-lying areas and make coastal highways and bridges more vulnerable to storm surges. (For more information, see "Taking Stock: Climate Change and Transportation" in the March/April 2010 issue of PUBLIC ROADS.)

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse Web site at the Transportation Research Board's 88th Annual Meeting in January 2009. The Web site, accessible at http://climate.dot.gov, is a one-stop shop for information, resources, tools, and strategies for addressing climate change in the transportation sector.

"New information sources addressing transportation and climate change are increasingly available," says Linda Lawson, cochair of the USDOT Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting. "However, until we created the clearinghouse, they required extensive searches to locate. Now, all this information is accessible in one place."

Flush with Content

The clearinghouse facilitates peer-to-peer information sharing and technical capacity building by serving as a virtual portal for information exchange between Federal, State, and local transportation practitioners, researchers, and nongovernment organizations. The content covers all modes of transportation—aviation, bicycles and pedestrians, highways, marine transportation, motor carriers, rail, and transit.

Screen grab of the home page from the Transportation and Climate Change Web site.

Key subject areas include the following:

Many State and local governments are setting reduction goals through legislation, regulation, and other policies. States and regional coalitions are developing climate action plans to identify and evaluate feasible strategies to reduce emissions through a combination of public and private sector policies and programs.

The section on GHG emissions inventories provides an overview of the U.S. inventory, trends in national and State-level emissions, and links to resources related to State and regional inventories. Under GHG reduction strategies, the site highlights fuels and vehicle technologies, transportation planning strategies such as travel demand management programs, and operations strategies such as incident management, traveler information, and freeway management. A resources tab provides links to related hearings, books, conference presentations, and newsletters.

Other Features

The clearinghouse includes an advanced function that enables users to search using multiple keywords, resource type, year, format, and language. The site also features a calendar with relevant conferences and events, a glossary of terms, and links to related organizations' Web sites. Since its launch, the site consistently has seen between 4,000 and 5,000 unique visitors a month.

For information on how to submit materials to the clearinghouse, visit http://climate.dot.gov/documents/submissions.pdf or contact Roger Garren, reference librarian at the National Transportation Library, at roger.garren@dot.gov.

Diane Turchetta is a transportation specialist in the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty.




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