We need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we want to avoid the worst effects of climate change. That’s fairly straight forward and is a tangible measurable target in Region Forward. The current constraints on our nation’s and our region’s energy production however means that we’ll still be relying on fossil fuels for a large (but hopefully declining) portion of our energy for quite some time. With that said how do we mitigate the effects of our consumption?
Transportation choices can have a big impact – 30 percent of emissions in metro Washington come from transportation according to the National Capital Region Climate Change Report. Solutions like clean energy vehicles ridesharing and transit not only reduce emissions but as we noted Tuesday can save time money and stress as well. Related to transportation land-use decisions also have a major impact on how much we emit. It’s been proven time and again that residents in dense compact mixed-use neighborhoods emit less per capita than folks living in sprawl. Much of the reduction comes from the availability of transportation alternatives like walking to the grocery store or market for some milk rather than driving there.
Urban thinker Peter Calthorpe in his new book Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change addresses the role of land-use and transportation in reducing emissions. Calthorpe arguing that “urbanism is our single most potent weapon against climate change rising energy costs and environmental degradation” supports regional plans that accommodate a wide range of goals as a defense against such consequences. Region Forward is that plan for metro Washington.