September 3, 2019
Bernie Sander's outlined approach to reducing carbon emissions from the national transportation sector—the leading source in the US—is better than the rest but still largely ignores public transit and non-motorized transportation, such as biking and walking.
A handful of climate plans have been released recently by presidential hopefuls, including Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, Joe Biden, and Andrew Yang, to address and slow climate change in the next 10 to 30 years. Though all ambitious, most dedicate only a sentence or two to the transportation sector, the largest source of GHGs in America.
An exception is Bernie's Green New Plan, which outlines $3.5 trillion to transform our current fossil-fuel-dependent transportation system to a renewable and/or electric transportation system. Grants and subsidies would allow folks to buy NEW CARS while removing fossil-fuel cars and commercial trucks from the American fleet. The plan also dedicates $300 billion to high-speed rail and a commitment to building transit-oriented cities and communities.
While the plan is better than most, it still fails to address America’s car dependency and how this must be reduced or eliminated to reduce congestion, pollution and poor land use, and improve American’s quality of life, social equity and personal health—not to mention reduce GHG emissions and help mitigate the deleterious effects of our rapidly changing climate. No mention is made of active transportation such as walking and biking as viable options for reducing congestion and GHG emissions.
"Each day that we continue to prioritize cars means more Americans will be displaced from their homes, diagnosed with chronic respiratory disease, or killed in traffic collisions so our communities can accommodate more vehicles. And even if all those vehicles are electric, they’ll still emit dangerous particulate matter, creating lifelong health issues for people who live near wide, busy roadways.
Cars are also expensive. In a country where many Americans are having trouble paying rent—something Sanders speaks about often—is our best solution for reducing emissions really going to be requiring households to purchase a new zero-emission vehicle just to continue participating in society?" (Read the excellent article here.)
Bernie Sander’s Green New Deal Plan, which dedicates $16.3 trillion to addressing climate change by 2030, outlines the below transportation priorities. While this plan is a step in the right direction for including transportation in climate change and sustainability goals, a serious, bold initiative of reducing our nation's car dependency is needed to adequately and quickly address climate change mitigation goals in America.
Bernie's Green New Deal Plan includes the following transportation initiatives: