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New Report Finds Transportation Efficiencies Can Contribute to Significant GHG Reductions and Consumer Savings

First-ever Comprehensive Analysis Looks at Transportation Strategies to Address Climate Change

Jul 28, 2009 - Michael Oko - NRDC

WASHINGTON, DC (July 28, 2009) – The first-ever comprehensive analysis of transportation efficiency and its relationship to greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction and consumer savings was released today by a diverse group of stakeholders committed to addressing climate change. Sponsored by transportation experts, industry, environmental organizations, federal agencies, trade associations and leading foundations, Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions, provides an objective and scientific analysis of the effectiveness and cost of almost 50 scalable transportation strategies, both alone and combined, to reduce GHG emissions.

“Our transportation choices affect the quality of our lives, as well as our air, water and climate. The Moving Cooler report, the first scientific study of the impacts of comprehensive transportation policies and investments on global warming, will help us make better choices,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This report shows that we can align our transportation, climate and energy policies to reduce oil consumption, cut heat-trapping pollution and increase savings for consumers.”

The Moving Cooler report, published by the Urban Land Institute, looks at the possibilities of transportation efficiencies – investments in a less energy-intensive transportation system, such as transit alternatives and more efficient driving – by examining two basic approaches: travel activity, and vehicle and system operations. It found that combining various transportation approaches together could yield meaningful GHG emission reductions, while also achieving fuel savings and savings to consumers on their transportation costs.

Among the report’s top-line findings are that implementing “bundles” of transportation efficiency strategies could:

  • Achieve annual GHG emission reductions of up to 24% below baseline levels in 2050, by changing current transportation systems and operations, travel behavior, land use patterns, and public policy and regulations.
  • Reduce fuel consumption that translates to a savings of at least 110 million barrels of oil a year. At maximum levels of deployment, these savings could yield as much as 660 million barrels per year. 
  • Provide consumers with an estimated average savings in direct vehicle costs of up to $112 billion annually over a 40-year timeframe. 

Within the possible bundles, some of the approaches that contribute most to GHG reductions are: local and regional regulations that increase the cost of single occupancy vehicle travel; regulations that reduce and enforce speed limits; educational efforts that encourage eco-driving behavior; smart growth strategies that reduce travel distances; and multimodal strategies that expand options for travel. 

Transportation contributes about 28 percent of the United States’ total GHG emissions – and emissions from transportation are growing faster than other sectors, representing almost half of the increase in total GHG emissions between 1990 and 2006.

Moving Cooler also found that many of the strategies examined in the study could actually be implemented within the next few years, and would begin to generate GHG reductions prior to 2020, helping to meet many social, economic, and environmental goals for the nation.

The study was commissioned by several organizations that came together in agreement that the challenge of climate change can be met in a way that increases the nation’s energy security, reduces pollution, and saves consumers money on their transportation costs. The sponsoring organizations of Moving Cooler were: the American Public Transportation Association; the Environmental Defense Fund; the Intelligent Transportation Society of America; the Kresge Foundation; the Natural Resources Defense Council; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Rockefeller Foundation; the Shell Oil Company; the Surdna Foundation; the Funders Network for Smart Growth; the Urban Land Institute; as well as a number of federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Highway Administration; and the Federal Transit Administration.

The full study as well as an overview fact sheet can be viewed by the media at:


Updated: 2016/06/30

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