Businesses and Institutions Call for a Regional Approach to Curb Transportation Emissions
Influential investors, companies, hospital systems, colleges, and universities called on Northeast and Mid-Atlantic governors to take steps to modernize the region’s transportation system and keep the local economy thriving.
“As businesses and investors with operations throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, we urge you to prioritize policies and investments to create a clean, equitable and efficient transportation system,” more than 70 signatories wrote in letters delivered this week to governors throughout the region. “Our system for moving people and goods throughout the region has a clear impact on business productivity and costs, and our region stands to benefit significantly from making investments today to modernize that system.”
In November 2017, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia publicly pledged to work together with stakeholders to develop a regional strategy to reduce transportation emissions. The governors of these states also invited stakeholders to provide comments on how to create a modern transportation system that benefits residents and business alike.
The letters, signed by Partners Healthcare, Impax Asset Management, Schneider Electric, UMass Lowell, Unilever, University of Connecticut, Trillium Asset Management, and others, lay out a vision for the region’s transportation future that includes increased investments in critical transportation infrastructure, efficient and reliable public transportation, and the electrification of the transportation sector.
“The investors and companies we work with understand the economic imperative of a modern and efficient transportation system that also reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Alli Gold Roberts, senior manager of state policy at Ceres. “A regional policy approach to cutting transportation emissions is an efficient and cost-effective way to grow the economy and spur innovation. Ceres will continue to engage the business community in efforts to create a modern and clean transportation system over the coming months.”
“Higher education institutions throughout the region are committed to accelerating climate action and advocating for needed systemic changes that allow us to meet our shared climate goals,” said Tim Carter, President at Second Nature, an organization working with higher education on climate action. “We need a future where employees and students have access to clean transportation options that allow them to travel to and from campus easily and affordably.”
In 2016, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector surpassed those from the power sector in the United States. A modernized transportation system would strengthen the economy, improve public health, and protect against volatile fossil fuel prices.
According to the American Lung Association, every year pollution from transportation causes thousands of asthma attacks and preventable deaths leading to $15.5 billion in combined health costs. Transitioning to clean and efficient vehicles could save an estimated $14 billion per year in reduced health and climate impacts. In addition, the region imports nearly 100 percent of its transportation fuels, sending billions out of our economy annually. Reducing fuel consumption would keep that money in the region.
“As leaders doing business across every state in the U.S., E2 members know that a clean, efficient, and modern transportation system drives our entire economy,” said E2 Eastern States Advocate Noah Dubin. “It is essential that we elevate the voice of the business community as we seek a regional approach to modernize our transportation system while reducing emissions, catalyzing growth, and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.”
“Transportation emissions are the most difficult piece of the challenge we face in becoming carbon neutral,” said Eastern Connecticut State University President Elsa Núñez.“Universities have very little influence on transportation systems beyond our campuses, but our students, staff, and faculty will benefit greatly from convenient, affordable, low carbon options. We need strong regional leadership to develop clean, efficient and reliable public transit and vehicle choices.”
This collaborative, regional approach to transform the transportation sector and reduce transportation emissions presents a significant economic opportunity for the region. A proven model of a regional, market-based system to cut emissions already exists in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI has helped cut emissions from power plants in the northeast by more than 40 percent, while driving $2.8 billion in regional economic growth and creating nearly 30,000 jobs.
"As a global leader in the production of spirits and beer, Diageo recognizes that a key portion of our environmental impact comes from shipping and transportation," said Dwayne Kratt, senior director, state government affairs, at Diageo. "As we seek to meet our sustainability goals, we know that electrifying the transportation sector is a crucial component. We support the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in their efforts to pursue a bold policy to tackle transportation emissions.”
“As an investor with long experience across the energy efficient transport sector, Impax is focused on the opportunities and risks businesses face every day,” said Ken Locklin, director at Impax Asset Management. “Improving clean public transportation options, installing electric vehicle infrastructure, and supporting the accelerated uptake of electric vehicles will help attract new investments to the region. Remember that clean and efficient transport of people and goods is a key factor driving new corporate investment decisions nationwide.”
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. For more information, visit www.ceres.org and follow @CeresNews.
E2 is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and others who advocate for smart policies that are good for the environment and good for the economy. For more information, visit www.e2.org.
About Second Nature
Second Nature is a nonprofit organization committed to accelerating climate action in, and through, higher education. For more information, visit www.secondnature.org.