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The Nature Conservancy Responds to the Transportation and Climate Initiative’s Draft Memorandum of Understanding and Survey Results

Arlington, VA

The 13 jurisdictions involved in the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) released a draft memorandum of understanding today that represents the first steps towards creating a regional policy framework for addressing greenhouse gas pollution from the transportation sector. TCI is a joint effort to develop a regional policy to set an overall limit on transportation-related carbon emissions, including a cap-and-invest structure, that will decline over time. The group also released modeling results showing the energy and pollution implications of different potential emissions caps and program design options.

“The participating states and the District of Columbia should be commended for working together to develop this first-of-its-kind regional program to reduce pollutants from the transportation sector–the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in our region,” said Sarah Jackson, Northeast Climate and Energy Policy Manager for The Nature Conservancy. “What is really exciting here is the opportunity to not only reduce harmful air pollution and improve public health, but to invest in the kinds of transportation improvements that both rural and urban communities want to see policymakers implement. People are eager to see improvements in the transportation system that provide cleaner and safer transit options that decrease the time they spend in their cars.” 

People are eager to see improvements in the transportation system that provide cleaner and safer transit options that decrease the time they spend in their cars.

Northeast Climate and Energy Policy Manager for The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy earlier this year released results from a survey of rural voters showing that three-quarters of small town and rural voters in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states support the creation of a clean transportation fund that would invest in options like expanding public transportation, increasing broadband availability for telecommuting, new incentives for electric vehicles, and needed investments in our transportation infrastructure.

“The challenges our communities face—from both outdated, inefficient transportation systems and from the growing impacts of climate change—demand that we take action and seek solutions,” Jackson said. “We encourage the states to keep working together with all relevant stakeholders to find the most effective means to help the region meet our greenhouse gas reduction goals while improving our transportation infrastructure and increasing our transit options.” 

Reactions from The Nature Conservancy’s State Chapters:

“In Maine, transportation is at once the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions and integral to our rural economy," said Maine State Director Kate Dempsey. "We know that rural communities value investments in clean transportation. We must seek policy solutions that meet Maine’s emissions reduction goals while supporting the needs and values of all Mainers.”

We appreciate the progress of states coming together through the Transportation and Climate Initiative. We are eager to learn more and are committed to helping ensure that TCI provides clean transportation options that improve mobility and reduce pollution,” said Massachusetts State Director Wayne Klockner.

“Transportation now makes up the largest component of greenhouse gas emissions in New Hampshire and across the Northeast,” said New Hampshire State Director Mark Zankel. “We are encouraged by the work being done to bring states together to reduce those emissions. To be successful, any agreement needs to balance the urgent need to achieve meaningful emission reductions with the ability of New Hampshire residents and businesses to pay.  We urge Governor Sununu and his administration to continue working closely with our neighbors to develop a program that helps build a clean transportation system that benefits all Granite Staters.”

“Transportation accounts for over 40 percent of NJ’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Transportation and Climate Initiative provides an opportunity to reduce those emissions while achieving cleaner air and a better transportation system for all,” said New Jersey State Director Barbara Brummer. “Working with our Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic neighbors we have an opportunity to transform our transportation sector, including corporate fleets and distribution and logistics networks that run through our state and making our public transportation more efficient, reliable, and clean. We look forward to working with government officials, other partners, and our neighboring states to ensure a successful TCI.”

“Today’s announcement of TCI marks a critical step in progress toward addressing the climate crisis,” said Rhode Island State Director John Torgan. “Working together, the states have the power to invest in a transportation system resilient to climate change and clean, safe and affordable for all of our residents. From our polling, we know that Rhode Islanders overwhelmingly support investments in clean transportation for our economy, our health and our environment.”

“Addressing greenhouse gas emissions while investing in our small towns and rural communities through expanded public transportation, access to electric vehicles, and improved pedestrian and bicycling access is an important step forward in addressing pollution-emitting sources that are changing our landscape,” said Vermont State Director Heather Furman. “All people and all communities should realize the benefits of a clean transportation system that can improve people’s lives while addressing the root causes of climate change. With that in mind, we are encouraged to see today’s progress on the Transportation and Climate Initiative Program and applaud the participating states for their hard work in taking the necessary first steps, while also recognizing that they will need to do more to rein in transportation emissions and provide equitable solutions.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.