Historic Move Towards a Modern and Clean Transportation Future

As we move into the new year, we are also moving into a new era of cleaner transportation for the Commonwealth and beyond. Today, Massachusetts and eight other Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and Washington D.C. announced that they will implement a region-wide policy to create a modern, clean transportation system. This news is good for the environment and our health but is also a win for economic development and business.

With transportation now the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions both in the Commonwealth and in the country overall and climate change impacts already reaching our shores, we must move aggressively to curb emissions from this sector.

Luckily, with the announcement today, we have a coalition of the willing and a great model to follow. States in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have already demonstrated success with regional, market-based climate policy through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Since RGGI’s inception in 2009, the participating states have reduced power plant GHG emissions 40 percent[1] and generated over $2.9 billion in net economic benefits.[2] Similar cap-and-invest programs have also been implemented in California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, as well as in Ontario, Quebec, and 36 countries across the world.[3]

In the electricity sector, a price on carbon through RGGI, complemented by the strategic investment of resulting program allowance revenues as well as state Renewable Portfolio Standards and numerous other policies, have enabled new technologies to overcome the challenges of getting to scale. This, in turn, has produced cost-effective clean energy growth and overall economic benefits. A similar combination of complementary, adaptable policies and strategic investment of revenues is needed to launch a transformation of the transportation sector and ensure a broad distribution of benefits.

Implementing a “RGGI for Transportation” program will also improve health, create thousands of jobs and put more money in people's pockets. According to a report from the Georgetown Climate Center, prioritizing clean and investing to reduce vehicle GHG emissions would:

  • reduce premature deaths and asthma cases yielding $152 million to $463 million in public health improvement benefits by 2030.
  • create more than 100,000 new jobs in the region.
  • put more than $13.4 billion into families’ pockets in 2030 alone.
  • spend less time in traffic, saving between 385 million to 1.36 billion hours in the region in 2030.

With this historic announcement, 2019 is now a year of action towards tackling one of our greatest environmental challenges. A Better City understands that modernizing and cleaning our transportation system is complex and requires leadership that crosses state lines. We applaud the Baker Administration and the Governors and leadership of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Vermont and Washington, DC for joining together to tackle this important issue and look forward to working within the Commonwealth and across the region to ensure we make this region-wide policy a reality in this next year.  

[1] See: http://acadiacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/AC_RGGI_on_the_World_Stage_20170626.pdf.

[2] This figure is based on the combined findings from two separate reports from the Analysis Group, the first of which covered impacts from 2009 through the first half of 2011, the second report covering 2012 to 2014. As a result, the combined benefits included above only account for five and a half years of revenue reinvestment, rather than the full six years from 2009 to 2014, and do not include benefits from later years.  Reports at: http://www.analysisgroup.com/uploadedfiles/content/insights/publishing/analysis_group_rggi_report_july_2015.pdf and http://www.analysisgroup.com/uploadedfiles/content/insights/publishing/economic_impact_rggi_report.pdf.

[3] World Bank Group, State and Trends of Carbon Pricing 2016. Available at:  https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25160/9781464810015.pdf?sequence=7&isAllowed=y.

Comments (0)

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment: