AUSTIN – Environment Texas today announced its endorsement of Austin Proposition 1, a $720 million transportation bond that makes the biggest investment in carbon-free transportation in Austin’s history. The group also released a new report, 50 STEPS TOWARD CARBON-FREE TRANSPORTATION: Rethinking U.S. Transportation Policy to Fight Global Warming, which 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 tools to give Texans cleaner choices for getting from point A to point B,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “With a historic investment in enabling people to walk and bike safely and get our buses moving more quickly, helping the climate is just one more reason Austin voters should approve Proposition 1.”
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.
In Texas, transportation makes up 31% of global warming emissions. To get on the right track, Texas will need to shift its transportation policies. Currently, Texas spends just $1.13 per person on public transportation - or 657 times as much on highways as transit.
Austin Proposition 1, on the ballot November 8, will make a $720 million investment in transportation, including $111 million for sidewalks, bike lanes and urban trails. $482 million will support investment in “smart corridors,” including projects to improve the reliability and speed of bus service and efforts to reduce pollution-generating congestion.
"The mobility bond helps the environment and traffic by making better use of our existing roads, and one great result of that is that more Austinites will have safe, reliable choices to take the bus or bike to work, and our neighborhoods will be better connected thanks to the addition of more than 50 miles of safe sidewalks,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler. “We can't keep doing things the way we've always done them and expect better results. We need to get started or our climate will pay the price."
"Investing in infrastructure that supports walking, biking and public transit costs a fraction of what it takes to build new roads, and it returns real benefits for society, including a safer climate,” said BikeAustin’s Miller Nuttle. “Prop 1 will relieve congestion while making it safer and more convenient for people to make smart, climate-friendly transportation choices."
The 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 the following:
- 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 and electric cars.
- Supporting the creation of climate-friendly communities, allowing every Texan 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.
Environment Texas is already working to shift away from dirty power and towards clean renewable energy like wind and solar. When it comes to transportation, Texas 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.
“To prevent the worst impacts of global warming, we’ll have to nearly eliminate emissions from transportation by mid-century, said Metzger. “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 Texas.”
Environment Texas 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 decision-makers need to adopt these recommendations and lead the transition to clean transportation. It makes sense for our climate, our health, and Texas.”
Environment Texas is an environmental advocacy organization working for a cleaner, greener healthier future. www.EnvironmentTexas.org