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OCR for page 55
W H AT A R E T H E C H A L L E N G E S T O C R E AT I N G S U S TA I N A B L E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N ? 45 other, it is simply too easy to dismiss the importance of portation projects are still intrusive and unacceptable; mobility in favor of sustainability and similarly too easy the law has been dramatic and its results have been to deny the unsustainability of current global patterns extensive, but it has redirected and not prevented invest- of mobility and energy use. The real challenge lies in the ments in improved mobility. recognition that both are critically important policy Imagine for the moment that mobility had grown as goals. The European notion of "sustainable mobility" much as it has since the first air quality act amendments suggests a search for balance, and that is why we are that affected automobile travel. In looking back on what here. Our community is by no means unanimous in its has happened with respect to air quality over the past 30 perceptions of either the benefits of mobility or the costs or 40 years, most agree that we are much better off today of a mobility-dependent society or even about the defin- than we would have been were automobiles producing ition of sustainability, but sustainability is here to stay as much pollution as they did in 1970. While we have as a subject of public debate and policy making. I hope certainly not eliminated urban air pollution and its we can make a contribution to clarifying that debate, health impacts, and our standards only recently have but I hope even more strongly that we can influence the become more demanding because of improved under- development of policy through our discussions at this standing of the health effects of certain pollutants, few conference. question that society is better off as a result of regula- tions that control air pollutant emissions and concentra- tions. The series of legislative actions taken with respect PARALLELS WITH EARLIER ENVIRONMENTAL to air quality, like those associated with NEPA, were AND AIR QUALITY MOVEMENTS, highly contentious. Many false starts were made, and AND A PREDICTION onerous regulations were enacted and then amended. But, once again, contrary to the expectations of many, Everything we do is in many ways the direct product of the results of NEPA and of air quality regulation have what came earlier. The current movement for sustainable been enormous. They have redirected and not prevented transportation is not at all discontinuous with the history investments that have improved mobility. of transportation policy. We should, therefore, try to learn Imagine for the moment that it is now 2040 and that from that history. For example, in the late 1960s in the personal mobility and goods movement have grown as United States we were at the height of the national free- much as they were predicted to grow in both developed way building period that has now ended, and we were and developing countries. Looking back on what hap- just starting to formulate a national program of capital pened with respect to sustainability, I venture to say that investment in public transit. We tried at that time to find we could not in 2040 imagine what the world would be the right balance between mobility and environmental like had the concept of sustainability not been acted on concerns, and the process was not at all easy. in the interim--for example, had levels of energy used Imagine for the moment that mobility had grown as per unit of transportation in 2004 prevailed up until this much as it has since 1970 and that we had not as a nation date. It will probably have proven impossible to provide adopted the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 the world with completely sustainable transportation, (NEPA). While we have certainly not eliminated the neg- and new knowledge will have caused us to develop new ative environmental impacts of transportation, our soci- demands and limits that we cannot conceive of in 2004. ety is better off as a result of the passage of NEPA, even Nevertheless, the contentiousness of today's debates will if we can think of many shortcomings in the NEPA have paled, and attention to improved sustainability process. Remember that NEPA was highly controversial, will have redirected but not prevented investments in and many in the transportation community thought at improved mobility. the time that it would destroy our effort to create a more mobile society. In retrospect that fear was certainly not realized. As a result of NEPA, which has proved to be AWARENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY IS GROWING, enormously robust by surviving thousands of legal and BUT THE UNITED STATES IS LAGGING BEHIND political challenges, we now incorporate environmental impacts of transportation more explicitly into the plan- Though sustainable mobility is becoming a more widely ning process at every stage. Transportation agencies shared goal, we are still in the early stages of organizing employ environmental specialists and engage in commu- societal action toward meeting that goal. It would be nity interaction much earlier in every planning, design, wrong to think that we have little or no interest in or and engineering activity. NEPA helped to create a bal- commitment to sustainability. Actions are being taken ance that in retrospect appears far more appropriate and despite strong differences of opinion and some confu- less revolutionary than it did at the time. To a large num- sion. However, society is complex, and that complexity ber of people, the environmental impacts of many trans- is one of the most important sources of our apparent

OCR for page 55
46 I N T E G R AT I N G S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y I N T O T H E T R A N S P O RTAT I O N P L A N N I N G P R O C E S S inertia. Furthermore, sustainability remains a broad and Virtually all the successful plans occurred in places vague concept, and that contributes to our inertia. where mayors, governors, legislators, or other leaders Within the European Union there is a strong impera- championed their development and saw them through tive to achieve the 8 percent GHG reduction targets set to completion. by the Kyoto protocol, and some countries have Transportation agencies were rarely the initiators embraced the goal to exceed the Kyoto targets by quite or the lead agencies in preparing such plans. More often a margin. In contrast, of course, the United States has the lead agencies had responsibilities for energy, envi- refused to sign the Kyoto accords. Transportation-based ronment, or land use. While transportation agencies emissions in the United States (about one-third of all were often not in the lead and often lagged behind other emissions of GHGs) are rising at about 3 percent per sectors, the most successful plans resulted from multi- year, while emissions from residential and commercial agency collaboration. sources are rising even more rapidly (Banister and Pucher 2003). Even if these trends cannot be reversed It would be a mistake to conclude that there is little fully, their direction and speed must be changed, and I or no corporate interest in a more sustainable future. hope that we can proceed into the workshops unified in Much work is taking place in the private sector. As one this commitment. example, for the past 4 years under the sponsorship of Despite the reluctance of the federal government to the World Business Council for Sustainable Develop- take responsibility for GHG reduction, there has been ment, 12 leading international automotive and energy much activity in the United States in pursuit of sustain- companies have worked together to consider how able mobility. A recent survey by staff members at the global mobility patterns might evolve through 2030 and Volpe Transportation Center found that as of May 31, beyond and have attempted to identify strategies to 2001, a surprisingly large number of states--25 states make transport more sustainable. Though we may plus Puerto Rico--had initiated the process of develop- remain skeptical about the motivations of these corpo- ing statewide GHG reduction plans and that 19 had rations, the seven goals identified by the study team are completed those plans. In addition, 134 cities and coun- completely consistent with the view of sustainability ties had, by that date, initiated voluntary GHG planning enumerated by William Black in the opening paper for activities, which, at a minimum, include commitments this conference: to pass supportive resolutions, conduct baseline esti- mates, develop action plans, and monitor results (Lyons To reduce conventional emissions from transport et al. 2003). After reviewing this national pattern, the so that they do not constitute a significant public health authors studied a subsample of these programs in depth. concern anywhere in the world, The following were among the most interesting and use- To reduce GHG emissions from transport to sus- ful conclusions with implications for our discussion: tainable levels, To reduce significantly the number of transport- Local and regional agencies often act out of the related deaths and injuries worldwide, realization that they stand to suffer damage themselves To reduce transport-related noise, from global climate change unless trends are reversed. To mitigate traffic congestion, The recognition that they might themselves suffer from To narrow "mobility divides" that exist within all rising water levels, negative impacts on tourism, and countries and between the richest and poorest countries, damage to forests was often associated with interest in and developing plans for GHG reduction. To improve mobility opportunities for the general Local governments that adopted a formal population in developed and developing societies. approach, with goals, deadlines, inventories, and fore- casts, tended to be more effective than those that were The report Mobility 2030 (World Business Council for well meaning but less focused. Sustainable Development 2004), now in the final stages Planning was more often undertaken where GHG of preparation for release, addressed all of these goals, reduction was seen by state leaders to contribute to but at different levels of depth and specificity. It gave other ongoing state plans and programs, such as eco- greatest emphasis to and its most specific recommenda- nomic development and smart growth. In other words, tions address power train technology, fuels, and energy where there was a strong tradition of environmentally issues. This is certainly understandable given the compa- responsible planning and the perception of complemen- nies that have been involved. Still, the fact that a study tarity with other planning efforts, sustainability plan- took place and that a comprehensive set of sustainability ning had a better chance of being adopted. goals has been developed by the companies is itself an Planning was far more often undertaken where indication that sustainability can become a major factor one or more political champions took a leadership role. in private-sector planning, research, and marketing.