Reducing Transportation Emissions, Improving Air Quality Recurring Themes at Global Cities Climate Summit

Reducing Transportation Emissions, Improving Air Quality Recurring Themes at Global Cities Climate Summit

October 18, 2019  | Brianne Eby

On October 10 and 11, nearly 2,000 global city leaders from the public, private, and civic sectors gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the C40 World Mayors Summit, an annual meeting centered on the theme of advancing ambitious climate action in cities. C40 Cities is a network of 94 global cities – representing over one quarter of the global economy – committed to addressing climate change. The network, a public-private partnership that serves as an example of voluntary, locally-oriented international diplomacy, allows participating cities to share best practices and exchange data with peer cities about greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies.

The Summit session titled “The Road Less Travelled: Greener and Healthier Streets for All,” featured the following panelists:

  • Steve Adler, Mayor of Austin, Texas;
  • Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, the Netherlands;
  • Helle Lis Søholt, CEO of urban design firm Gehl;
  • Luiz Alvaro Salles Aguiar de Menezes, Secretary of International Relations, São Paolo

Recognizing transportation as the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions globally and traffic congestion as a major contributor to local air pollution, panelists spoke about what they saw as the most transformative actions to reverse these trends. Notably, automobile electrification was not listed as a primary goal among any of the panelists. Rather, shifting mode share away from single-occupancy vehicles, addressing land use with better spatial planning and zoning policy reform, and improving pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure were listed as the most transformative actions to reduce emissions.

In discussing how to achieve these goals, Søholt called for mayors to take responsibility for shifting to integrated decision-making. She pointed to a current lack of coordination or collaboration across city departments, such as parks and transportation departments. In many cases, ownership of city streets and infrastructure is spread across various entities, resulting in different transportation and climate planning goals, and ultimately, challenges in overseeing progress toward those goals. Merging departments under one oversight body can help to streamline decision-making.

Another session, “Breathe Deeply: City Solutions for Clean Air,” highlighted a number of initiatives to reduce transportation emissions in cities, including low emission zones, central business district vehicle restrictions, and free cross-city busses. Two speakers highlighted the need for better street-level emissions data:

  • Ninna Hedeager Olsen, Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen;
  • Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Program Manager, Google

Olsen noted that quiet, narrow city streets often have higher air pollution than highways. This can have health consequences for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially those with respiratory conditions like asthma. Mapping urban air pollution patterns by collecting street-level air quality information can help to uncover which streets have higher concentrations of substances like black carbon, nitric oxide, and nitrogen oxide. With this data, Ms. Tuxen-Bettman indicated that local governments can better decide where to improve transit or prioritize placing electric charging stations or switching to electric buses. This data can also be used to bring public health externalities to the public’s attention.

All plenaries and sessions throughout the Summit recognized that much of the action to reduce emissions across all sectors is now occurring at the city level. The lessons shared and the network fostered by the broader C40 initiative can help to scale the solutions being developed and implemented at the local level.

Share

Related Articles

Senators Discuss IIJA’s Impacts and Opportunities for Transit Investment, Safety, Emissions

Senators Discuss IIJA’s Impacts and Opportunities for Transit Investment, Safety, Emissions

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing this week with FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez to discuss how...

DOT Reinstates Greenhouse Emissions Measure for NHS

DOT Reinstates Greenhouse Emissions Measure for NHS

Last week, the Federal Highway Administration announced a proposed regulation requiring states and local planning agencies to measure...

FHWA Releases $1.2 Billion in Carbon Reduction Program FY22 Funding for Use

FHWA Releases $1.2 Billion in Carbon Reduction Program FY22 Funding for Use

This week, the Federal Highway Administration released the guidance document that allows states to begin using the $1.2 billion in highway...

Webinar: Transit Strategies to Meet Climate Goals

Webinar: Transit Strategies to Meet Climate Goals

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation, which account for 29 percent of total emissions in the United States, is going to...

DOT Releases Updated CAFE Standards

DOT Releases Updated CAFE Standards

The U.S. Department of Transportation today released a new set of automotive fuel efficiency standards for model years 2024 through 2026...

Here’s What Biden’s Budget Would Do, and Not Do, for Climate Change

Here’s What Biden’s Budget Would Do, and Not Do, for Climate Change

The largest chunk of the $142 billion for transportation would be used to fix roads and bridges — or perhaps build new...

Appeals Court Lifts Injunction, Allowing Interim Social Cost of Carbon Standard to Be Used in Rules, EIS

Appeals Court Lifts Injunction, Allowing Interim Social Cost of Carbon Standard to Be Used in Rules, EIS

On March 16, a federal appeals court removed an injunction that was blocking the ability of federal agencies, including the Department of...

Federal Court Suspends

Federal Court Suspends "Social Cost of Carbon" Standard

A federal judge in Louisiana on February 11 issued an injunction halting the use of the interim “social cost of carbon” metric being...

Centennial Anthology: A Collection of Essays and Ideas

Centennial Anthology: A Collection of Essays and Ideas

Coming Out of the Crisis: A Look Past the Pandemic  The pandemic isn’t quite behind us, but every day the contours of the new normal...

Webinar: Electric Vehicle Charging Networks: Strategies, Data, and Models for States

Webinar: Electric Vehicle Charging Networks: Strategies, Data, and Models for States

As the Transportation sector continues to become more dependent on access to the electric power grid, increased coordination between the...

EPW Panel Releases Revised Text of Its Budget Reconciliation Title

EPW Panel Releases Revised Text of Its Budget Reconciliation Title

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today released its title of the "Build Back Better" budget reconciliation bill today, the...

White House, Congress Push Plans for Reducing Emissions from Aviation

White House, Congress Push Plans for Reducing Emissions from Aviation

The Biden Administration yesterday announced a new initiative to develop sustainable aviation fuels. In an extensive fact sheet released by...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks