Charge Ahead?: As NJ Lags Neighbors on Clean Cars, Environment New Jersey Maps Out 50 Steps Towards Carbon-Free Transportation
Princeton – Pollution from our cars, buses, trucks and trains is taking us dangerously off track to meeting climate goals, according to a new report written by Frontier Group and released by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center. 50 Steps Toward Carbon-Free Transportation: Rethinking U.S. Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming concludes that 21st century transportation policy must quickly shift to new priorities, guided by a central goal of curbing climate-altering carbon pollution.
“Our daily commutes are cooking the planet, but they don’t have to. We have the technology and skilled workforce to build cleaner cars and the tools to give Americans cleaner choices for getting from point A to point B,” said Marc Katronesky, global warming organizer for Environment New Jersey. “Our state leaders should support cleaner cars, invest in more public transit, and foster communities that enable people to walk and bike safely. We have solutions, now we just need the right policies to make it happen.”
In New Jersey, transportation makes up 53% of global warming emissions. To get on the right track, New Jersey will need to shift its transportation policies. Currently, New Jersey spends $42.70 per capita on transit compared to the $840.73 per capita spent on highways.
“Moving toward a cleaner transportation system will help us to provide a safer environment for our children and families,” said Senator Kip Bateman (R-16), a member of the Senator Environment & Energy Committee. “It’s imperative that officials at all levels of government work to remove statutory and regulatory barriers that have slowed down the implementation of new clear vehicle technologies, including electric cars.”
New Jersey is being left behind by five neighboring states in New England & the Mid-Atlantic, including New York, who are forging a regional approach to cut carbon pollution from transportation, as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). According to a Georgetown Climate Center report, clean transportation policies could curb carbon pollution in the region between 29 percent and 40 percent from 2011 levels by 2030. There would also be economic benefits. Over 15 years, businesses would save $28.7 billion to $54.5 billion and consumers would save $3.6 billion to $18 billion, stemming from lower fuel use and congestion.
The Environment New Jersey report highlights existing policies – from excessive spending on highway expansion to outdated rules that hamper transportation innovations – that hold America back in the fight against global warming. It also proposes 50 common-sense policy solutions that can reduce the risk of global warming and benefit communities across the country by incentivizing alternatives to driving, supporting the growth of walkable communities, and ensuring that all cars on the road are as clean as possible.
Among the policy solutions proposed in the report are:
- Putting low-carbon transportation options at the front of the line for public funding.
- Phasing out polluting vehicles and fuels through stronger fuel efficiency standards & electric cars.
- Supporting the creation of climate-friendly communities, allowing every New Jerseyan safe and easy access to public transit, biking and walking.
- Fostering innovation to create opportunities for new transportation options, like car sharing and other forms of shared mobility.
“The expansion of the electric infrastructure, combined with the use of clean energy sources to provide the power needed, will provide many new jobs for the state’s workers while reducing the burden of air pollution which is disabling our society,” said Paul Kaufman of GreenFaith. “We’re interested in seeing incentives that make electric vehicles more affordable and accessible for residents of our cities, so that the benefits of this breakthrough technology can be widely enjoyed.”
There are roughly 400 charging stations at a less than 200 locations in New Jersey, based on data kept by the Dept. of Energy. In June, the state NJDEP launched a $725,000 grant program aimed at increasing the installation of EV charging stations.
“Persuading the world in 2016 that EVs don’t work is like persuading the world in 1916 that horses are the future of transportation,” said Michael Thwaite, president of Plug In America. “Forget the environment for a moment, forget our troops fighting to secure the precious oil that so many burn so frivolously, and consider that you might like an electric car just because…it’s a better car.”
Environment New Jersey is already working to shift away from dirty power and towards clean renewable energy like wind and solar. When it comes to transportation, New Jersey needs to provide more alternatives to driving by supporting walkable and bikeable communities, connecting our cities with high-speed rail, and cleaning up the cars we do drive by strengthening vehicle fuel standards and transitioning our cars from oil to 100% clean renewable electricity.
“The Peacock Inn had our Tesla charger installed at the end of 2015, and it’s been a great added benefit for all of our guests with Teslas and also with other electric cars. It was important for us to be a part of creating a cleaner environment and as electric cars become more popular, we are excited to be part of the future,” said Scott Sussman, hotel director for the Peacock Inn, a boutique hotel in Princeton.
“Our current transportation system is costing New Jerseyans, costing our health, and costing the planet. We must tackle our transportation emissions to protect communities across the country and here in New Jersey from harmful impacts such as extreme weather events and increased asthma attacks,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Clean transportation means providing New Jerseyans a way to get from point A to point B without harming our health, drastically changing our climate and depending on dangerous fossil fuels.”
“To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, we’ll have to nearly eliminate emissions from transportation by mid-century,” said Katronetsky. “Bad decisions we make today about our transportation infrastructure could lock in pollution for decades. That’s why we must quickly pivot to new priorities. We need a clean transportation revolution, with clean and accessible mobility options for every resident of New Jersey.”
Environment New Jersey and other advocates urged state and federal decision-makers to move forward with climate-friendly transportation.
“We all know we need to cut carbon pollution from transportation and now we have a roadmap to get us there. With new ways to get around our cities, better public transit, cars that are cleaner than ever before, and electric cars fueled with sun and wind, every day paints a clearer picture of a zero-
carbon transportation future. Our elected leaders in the next gubernatorial administration need to adopt these recommendations and lead the transition to clean transportation. It makes sense for our climate, our health, and New Jersey,” said O’Malley.
The planet right now is the hottest it has been in 115,000 years. Increasingly severe weather events, like Hurricane Matthew, underscore the importance of reducing carbon pollution that fuels global warming. Transportation is the leading cause of global warming pollution in the country and America’s transportation system produces more carbon pollution per capita than any other country. Yet, many of the nation’s existing transportation policies are a roadblock to critical climate goals.
“America’s transportation policies were created generations ago, when few people understood the implications of global warming. Now we do understand – and our approach to transportation must change,” said Tony Dutzik, Senior Policy Analyst with Frontier Group and author of the report. “The good news is that we have an ever-growing set of tools – including technologies that we couldn’t have imagined even a decade ago – that can put us on a path to zero-carbon transporation.”
Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center is an environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener healthier future. www.environmentnewjerseycenter.org
50 Steps Toward Carbon Free Transportation
1) Climate concerns should inform every transportation decision
2) Low carbon transportation should be at the front-end of public funding.
3) People should be awarded for making low-carbon transportation decisions.
4) Carbon-intensive fuels and vehicles should be phased out
5) Public policy should encourage climate-friendly communities.
6) Public policy should foster innovation
Top Ten Steps:
1) Make addressing global warming a strategic goal
2) Stop doing harm
3) Get the most out of what we have
4) Level the playing field for shared mobility
5) Harness the power of markets
6) Speed the introduction of low carbon vehicles
7) Speed the introduction of low carbon fuels
8) Align transportation and land use objectives
9) Reform the transportation bureaucracy
10) Expand access and share data