Climate change and transportation: challenges and opportunities
Schmidt, Nicholas Andrew
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Transportation in the United States is responsible for a disproportionate amount of global greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. To address the issue, strategies that seek to mitigate transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and adapt transportation systems to the threats of a more inhospitable climate should be developed through the transportation planning process. The transportation plans and related documentation of 60 metropolitan planning organizations, 13 domestic cities, and 27 large international cities were reviewed to ascertain if climate change considerations are being incorporated into transportation planning. The review of transportation plans revealed that climate change considerations are often not incorporated into the planning process, especially in regard to adapting transportation systems to the effects of climate change due to the inherent uncertainties in climate data and risk analysis. On the other hand, greenhouse gas mitigation is more frequently included in the planning process, when compared to climate change adaptation, because the required data collection techniques and analysis tools are better developed and already in place within many planning organizations. This research has shown that there is much room for improvement in terms of including climate change into transportation planning through a variety of recommendations presented in the body of this thesis. Many of the identified mitigation and adaptation recommendations could be worked into existing transportation planning requirements, processes, and strategies at the metropolitan and local level. However, due to the influence by federal and state governments on the planning process, completely addressing climate change through transportation systems will require these high levels of government to redefine transportation regulations and planning requirements in addition to partnering with metropolitan planning organizations and local governments to develop more reliable climate data and increase its availability.