What City Observatory did this week
Oregon Department of Transportation’s Climate Fig-Leaf. Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gases in Oregon, and the state’s Department of Transportation is—yet again—advancing PR heavy strategy documents that contain no measurable objectives or accountability. The latest plan, a so-called “Climate Action Plan,” repeats disproven climate myths (that idling in traffic is a key source of greenhouse gas emissions, or that electronic freeway signs will reduce carbon emissions).
Instead of real action items, the document offers a string of mostly meaningless busy-work tasks, none of which have any demonstrable effect in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Strikingly, the document doesn’t acknowledge that transportation accounts for 20 million tons of greenhouse gases in Oregon a year, and that amount has gone up since ODOT first advanced its “Sustainable Transportation Strategy” eight years ago. When you read the details of the plan, the agency’s real priorities are apparent: getting more money to build roads. The Oregon Department of Transportation is complicit in concealing and worsening climate change, just as the state is being plunged into record heatwaves and wildfires.
“Climate change cannot be addressed without reforming land use, and land use cannot be changed without reforming transportation.”
3. The electric car obsession is getting in the way of reducing transportation greenhouse gases. More and more electric cars are on the road today. But electrification can’t be the only means of reducing transportation greenhouse gases. However, solely focusing on an electric fleet of automobiles is hindering progress towards our goal of net zero emissions. In fact, it would take decades to see significant progress and eliminate the global supply of fossil fuel cars. Christian Brand wants you to put down your Tesla catalogue and consider a better solution – active travel. Brand and his associates at Oxford present their research on active transportation (walking, cycling, and e-biking) and its ability to reduce global emissions in this article. Emissions from one bike ride can be more than 30 times lower than a drive in a fossil fuel car and about 10 times lower than an electric car. Brand advocates for active travel and urges cities to make safer, more accessible roads for bikes and pedestrians. He asserts,
“Active travel can contribute to tackling the climate emergency earlier than electric vehicles, while also providing affordable, reliable, clean, healthy and congestion-busting transportation.”
If we want to get to net zero emissions quickly, we must consider the importance of active travel.