Transportation

TRANSPORTATION

The transportation sector —which includes all modes of travel through land, air, and sea to move people and goods—now accounts for a third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions*, negatively affecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans, particularly those in disadvantaged communities. Transportation costs are the second largest annual household expense in our country and for the poorest Americans, the financial burden of transportation is disproportionately and unsustainably high. Already in 2020, according to the EPA, transportation generated the largest share of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

In 2018, twelve states (and the District of Columbia) in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic responded, creating the Transportation and Climate Initiative to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. This initiative is still being facilitated by the Georgetown Climate Center.

On January 11, 2023,  The Biden-Harris Administration released the U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization. Developed by the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Blueprint is a landmark strategy for cutting all greenhouse emissions from the transportation sector by 2050. There is a very effective graphic on page 5 of the Blueprint clarifying which of the different modes of travel offer the greatest long opportunities, as the administration works to meet the goal of net-zero GHG emissions economy-wide by 2050.

*Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in the United States is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. EPA tracks total U.S. emissions by publishing the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. This annual report estimates the total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities across the United States. 

CREDIT: EPA

CURRENT NEWS

Will America ever stop building more highways?

By Shannon Osaka 02/15/24
For decades, the United States has built and expanded a 220,000-mile network of state and interstate highways, easing cross-country travel while dividing cities and boosting suburban sprawl.
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Flush With Biden’s Infrastructure Cash, New York Is Choosing Highways Over Public Transit

By Sam Mellins 02/05/24
President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a centerpiece of his first term — and a huge windfall for New York. The state is expected to receive $36 billion from the law to upgrade its…
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The EV Revolution Isn’t Only Arriving on Four Wheels

By Akshat Rathi, Christine Driscoll, and Oscar Boyd 11/04/23
Cars make up only half the electric mobility picture. There are around 1.3 billion passenger cars on the road at the moment, the vast majority of which still need to be electrified. But there are…
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The Most Interesting EVs Are the Weird Ones

By Andrew Moseman 10/16/23
The Shogo’s front end shouts fast, and its steering yoke could’ve come off a race car — no surprise, since Honda motorsport engineers designed and hand-assembled it. Sure, the little electric vehicle tops out at…
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3 counties could power over 250,000 homes with clean energy with one change: ‘Imagine our entire state’s potential’

By Jane Donohue 10/14/23
Anew analysis demonstrates that three Southern California counties could power over 270,000 homes by lining their highways with solar energy infrastructure
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Startups with electric vans race to fill demand for zero-emissions delivery

By Nick Carey and Lisa Baertlein 09/18/23
A clutch of European and U.S. delivery company startups is racing to serve the growing market for offering zero-emission, electric last-mile deliveries in cities to retailers and consumers before giant shippers do the same.1
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The RVs of the future are here — and they use free, off-the-grid energy powered by a surprising piece of technology

By Mila Dyson 08/09/23
You’ve been dreaming of hitting the open road in your RV, but you’re worried about the cost of fuel to power the RV’s functions on arrival. You also might’ve heard that you could run your…
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Extreme heat is affecting oil refineries in Texas, pushing up gas prices

By Spectrum News 08/01/23
Multiple days of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees in the Southern states are affecting oil refineries in Texas and Louisiana, diminishing gas supplies and increasing prices.
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The Biden Administration Wants To Boost Fuel Efficiency To 58 MPG By 2032

By Alan Ohnsman 07/28/23
The U.S. Transportation Department on Friday unveiled a proposal that would require the fuel efficiency of the average new passenger vehicle to be at least 58 miles per gallon in less than a decade, building…
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How Biden’s climate law will — and won’t — transform America

By Maxine Joselow 07/20/23
Almost a year ago, President Biden signed into law the most ambitious climate bill in the nation’s history. Now, as a blistering heat wave bakes the southern United States, a timely new report illustrates how…
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Taking Stock 2023: US Emissions Projections after the Inflation Reduction Act

By Ben King, Hannah Kolus and Others 07/20/23
Every year, Rhodium Group provides an independent projection of future US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, under current policy and expectations for economic growth, future fossil fuel prices, and clean energy cost and performance trends. This…
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Jordan Calls For Unified Global Electric Grid To Streamline Green Energy Transportation

By Pooja Chandak 07/03/23
The Assistant Secretary-General of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Jordan, Hassan Hayari, emphasized the need for a unified global electric grid to facilitate the transport of green energy from countries with abundant…
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KEY RESOURCES

The Station

07/31/23
Welcome back to The Station, your central hub for all past, present and future means of moving people and packages from Point A to Point B.

The U.S. National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization: A Joint Strategy to Transform Transportation

01/12/23
In September of 2022, the leaders of the departments of Energy, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enable the four federal agencies to…

Vehicle Electrification Group

07/12/22
The Vehicle Electrification Group at Carnegie Mellon University was founded by Professor Jeremy Michalek and Professor Jay Whitacre in 2009 to study systems-level issues of hybrid and plug-in vehicles. Research areas include:

Vehicle-to-grid (V2g): Everything You Need To Know

06/17/22
V2G stands for “vehicle to grid” and is a technology that enables energy to be pushed back to the power grid from the battery of an electric car. With electric vehicle-to-grid technology—also known as car-to-grid—a…

Electric Vehicle Investments Provide Benefits Across the U.S.

06/13/22
This map compiles ZETA research to illustrate EV investments across the country. These private investments are creating tens of thousands of good-paying auto jobs that will reinvigorate communities, generating thousands of additional indirect jobs. And…

Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

05/23/22
Greenhouse gases trap heat and make the planet warmer. Human activities are responsible for almost all of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years.1 The largest source of greenhouse…

What Is the Carbon Footprint of Transportation?

10/07/21
The statistician and engineer W. Edwards Deming once said “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” Some of the best data come from the Our World in Data team at Oxford University. Their…

Profitably Decarbonizing Heavy Transport and Industrial Heat

08/23/21
To avoid the worst risks of runaway climate change, the world must cut global greenhouse gas emissions— chiefly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels—in half by 2030 and to about zero by 2050. Of that…

A Low Carbon Fuel Standard: In Brief

08/16/21
As part of the congressional deliberations on addressing climate change, Congress may consider policy options for reducing greenhouse gas(GHG)emissions from the transportation sector. One of the leading contributors to the U.S. GHG emission profile in…

Climate Action Pathway

08/11/21
By 2050, passenger and freight transport will be completely decarbonized by shifting to a more sustainable, diverse and resilient range of modes and vehicle technologies. Although individual countries will need to identify their own pathway…

PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS: Biden Administration Advances Expansion & Modernization of the Electric Grid

04/27/21
Departments of Energy and Transportation Announce New Actions to Upgrade America’s Power Infrastructure — Creating Jobs, Increasing Reliability, and Combating Climate Change

Biden unveils the first $2 trillion of his colossal 2-part infrastructure plan

04/01/21
Biden has unveiled the first part of his up to $4 trillion plan to overhaul the American economy.

Our Transportation Future

07/27/20
The Transportation and Climate Initiative is a collaboration of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. In December 2018, nine TCI states and D.C. committed to design and create a market-based program over…

Building Resilient Transportation

06/10/20
State and regional transportation agencies across the country are facing extreme weather events that damage roads and bridges and cost large sums to repair, not to mention the cost to the economy from disrupted travel.

The Most Detailed Map of Auto Emissions in America

04/30/20
Transportation is the largest source of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the United States today and the bulk of those emissions come from driving in our cities and suburbs.

Solar carports: how do they work and how much do they cost?

04/25/20
While a typical carport or patio cover provides shading and is undoubtedly a value-add for a home or automobile owner, its one-dimensional simplicity is a missed opportunity. If you’re a PV fanatic following emerging technologies in the solar industry,…

Fuel Economy in Hot Weather

04/25/20
Hot weather can actually increase your fuel economy. Your engine warms up to an efficient temperature faster; summer grades of gasoline can have slightly more energy; and warm air causes less aerodynamic drag than cold…

Fueling a Clean Transportation Future

03/28/20
Smart Fuel Choices for a Warming World.

MacRebur: The Plastic Road Company

03/02/20
MacRebur’s mission is to help solve the waste plastic epidemic and the poor quality of roads we drive on around the world today. Our innovative solution involves processing waste plastics destined for landfill or incineration…

IMO 2020: The Big Shipping Shake-Up

01/31/20
Over 90% of all global trade takes place on our oceans. Unfortunately, the network of 59,000 vessels powering international commerce runs on sulfur-laden bunker fuel, and resulting emissions are causing problems on dry land.

The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI)

01/07/20
The Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy and reduce carbon emissions from…

Carbon Pollution from Transportation

01/07/20
Burning fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. The buildup of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is…

Climate Collaborative – Transportation Resources

01/07/20
This page highlights case studies, videos, tools, and other resources from our partners. Adopting efficiencies in shipping cargo, logistics optimization, and intermodal transport can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the global movement of goods…

A brief introduction to climate change and transportation

09/22/19
How to reconcile people's love affair with their vehicles and society's need to reduce carbon emissions?

The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT)

11/21/19
The Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) promotes the integration of sustainable transport in global policies on sustainable development and climate change and leveraging action in support of the implementation of the global policies.…

MORE NEWS

A Big Win on Climate Change and Clean Transportation

By Ken Kimmell   12/18/18  
If you would like to be inspired by an example of states working together on an ambitious plan to address climate change, read on—the following is a big deal!
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Automakers Tell Trump His Pollution Rules Could Mean ‘Untenable’ Instability and Lower Profits

By Coral Davenport   12/13/18  
The world’s largest automakers warned President Trump on Thursday that one of his most sweeping deregulatory efforts — his plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards — threatens to cut their profits and produce “untenable” instability…
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The Oil Industry’s Covert Campaign to Rewrite American Car Emissions Rules

By Hiroko Tabuchi   12/13/18  
When the Trump administration laid out a plan this year that would eventually allow cars to emit more pollution, automakers, the obvious winners from the proposal, balked. The changes, they said, went too far even…
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Recycled Plastic Is Being Used To Repave Roads Around The World

By Joe McCarthy   11/15/18  
Roads made from recycled plastic can cut down on plastic pollution.
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An innovative solution for recycled plastics is hybrid asphalt for building roads

10/30/18  
An innovative solution for all the plastic that is choking the world’s landfills is to recycle it and use it to build roads.
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Where does your recycled plastic go? Perhaps into future highways.

By Ashley Halsey   10/28/18  
What should we do with all that plastic choking the world’s landfills? Why not recycle it and use it to build roads? Bound together with plastic polymers, the asphalt will be cheaper and last longer…
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GM, Honda Uneasy About Trump Plan to Dump Fuel-Economy Rules

By Ryan Beene and John Lippert   10/26/18  
The Trump administration has been working to end California’s mandate for automakers to sell more electric cars in the state each year. General Motors, which supports the requirement, now plans to propose a nationwide program…
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An Ambitious Global Effort to Cut Shipping Emissions Stalls

By Phil McKenna   10/26/18  
The International Maritime Organization agreed this year to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2050, but its members are struggling to agree on how to get there.
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California blasts Trump proposal to freeze fuel-efficiency standards as ‘flawed’ and ‘illegal’

By Brady Dennis and Michael Laris   10/26/18  
California officials on Friday plan to submit a 400-page repudiation of the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel-efficiency standards for the nation’s cars and trucks through 2026, calling it a deeply flawed, disingenuous effort that…
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GM, Honda Uneasy About Trump Plan to Dump Fuel-Economy Rules

By Ryan Beene and John Lippert   10/24/18  
Two of the biggest automakers and California officials are pushing back on the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of U.S. fuel economy standards.
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Portland, OR releases results of e-scooter pilot survey

By Katie Pyzyk   10/24/18  
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) determined that scooters are used both for transportation and recreation and that they are replacing car trips. The survey found scooter riders are primarily male (62% of respondents identified…
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Boulder eyes new car fee to combat climate change

By Shay Castle   10/23/18  
City council on Tuesday weighed a possible new fee on cars, aimed at shoring up dwindling funds for financing Boulder's climate goals. The fee would theoretically be tied to fuel efficiency and the value of…
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Trump Officials Link Fuel Economy Rules to Deadly Crashes. Experts Are Skeptical.

By Brad Plumer   08/02/18  
Can we improve fuel economy without sacrificing vehicle safety? That’s one contentious issue at the center of the debate over federal fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks.
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EPA proposes to freeze auto emission standards, revoke California EV rules By Gavin Bade

By Gavin Bade   08/02/18  
Electric vehicles could be a major source of electricity demand for utilities, but the Trump administration’s vehicle efficiency rollback could slow their growth, particularly in their biggest market — California.
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Revel launches moped service in Brooklyn, NY

By Jason Plautz   08/01/18  
Startup company Revel Transit has deployed a fleet of electric mopeds in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint, Williamsburg and Bushwick, with plans to expand to all of New York City if things go well.
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Electric vs. Diesel vs. Natural Gas: Which Bus is Best for the Climate?

By Jimmy O'dea   07/19/18  
Battery electric buses – the people’s electric vehicle – are becoming more and more common. An increasing number of transit agencies – large and small – are making announcements about purchasing electric buses and putting…
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Do You Fly Much? Greenhouse Gases Are Only Part of the Problem

by Diane Englander   07/13/18  
The first thing you need to know about aviation’s effect on climate is that carbon emissions cause less than half the harm.
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Columbus, OH puts up $30K for electric taxis

By Jason Plautz   06/19/18  
The City of Columbus, OH is offering $30,000 in rebates to taxi companies to replace existing vehicles with electric cars. The seed money will cover 10 electric vehicles and is meant to study the feasibility…
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Why Weakening Fuel Efficiency Standards Could be Trump’s Most Damaging Climate Move Yet

By Marianne Lavelle   04/02/18  
The Trump Administration is delivering a double-whammy to the United States’ ability to decrease the CO2 it puts in the atmosphere. First, it is weakening the regulations for American emissions. And, at the same time,…
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73 Mind-Blowing Implications of Driverless Cars and Trucks

By Geoff Nesnow   02/09/18  
I originally wrote and published a version of this article in September 2016. Since then, quite a bit has happened, further cementing my view that these changes are coming and that the implications will be…
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Announcement on clean transportation

11/13/17  
Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have been working together since 2015 to explore regional policies to reduce carbon emissions and other pollutants from the transportation sector and improve transportation systems.
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Paving roads with recycled plastic

02/27/17  
Paving roads with recycled plastic.
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The Globe-trotter’s Dilemma

By Hannah Norman   11/20/16  
Will the UN's new pact to mitigate emissions from aviation go far enough to green air travel?
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California to Fight ‘Unlawful’ Trump Fuel Economy Rollback

By John Lippert   11/24/18  
Trump plan won’t save lives, attorney general tells reporters. State will join 18 others in opposition to plan in filing.
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Minnesota, New Mexico propose clean car rules as Trump attacks California standards

By Catherine Morehouse   09/26/19  
States and cities across the country are fighting back against the Trump administration’s proposed rule for a singular vehicle emissions and fuel economy standard across the country.
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Greta Thunberg made me rethink my air travel

By Amelia Lester   09/21/19  
It's choppy days ahead as the message of a young climate change activist and the flight shaming movement hits home.
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As scooters go mainstream, infrastructure falls behind

By Jason Plautz   08/27/19  
Scooter safety has a new urgency with accidents and deaths on the rise. Cities are now questioning where it's best to ride them — and who's going to pay for the infrastructure.
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Germany unveils zero-emissions train that only emits steam

By Tom Embury-Dennis   11/01/16  
Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen.
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Massachusetts joining 11 other states to cut back on carbon emissions from regional transportation, new draft policy shows

By Tanner Stening   10/01/19  
Massachusetts and 11 Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states are jointly looking to scale back on gasoline and diesel emissions as part of an effort to implement a regional “low carbon” transportation policy, according to a draft policy…
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Unexpected effects of climate change: worse food safety, more car wrecks

By Susan Scutti   02/13/19  
On excessively hot days, there are more likely to be fatal car accidents and food safety problems, and police officers and government food inspectors tend to do less of their duties, according to a study…
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Sustainability Progress Through Transformations in Public Transportation

By Alana Masciana   10/15/18  
What’s the best way for cities to become more sustainable? For Thomas Abdallah of MTA New York City Transit, the answer is mass transit. Citing the finding that the transportation sector accounts for the largest share of U.S. greenhouse…
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