To Avoid Climate Disaster, Urban Transportation Must Change, Now - City Lab

Today, hundreds of thousands of students from over 100 countries are walking out of their schools to join a Global Climate Strike, part of a wave of youth protests around the world aimed at demanding immediate government response to the climate crisis. “I don’t want your hope,” said Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish student who initiated the movement, in her quiet, eloquent demand at Davos in January. “I want you to act. I want you to act as if you were in a crisis … as if the house were on fire. Because it is.”

The demand? That governments acknowledge the crisis, and move with commensurate speed and action.

In an urbanizing world, the transportation sector is a major generator of climate-altering gases, contributing as much as 60 percent of a city’s emissions. It’s also a profound influence on the lives of the children who grow up amid fossil-fuel burning behavior: Air pollution from transportation leads to lower birth weights and higher incidence of asthma; traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers.

To hold warming to a 1.5 degree Celsius rise, as urgently laid out in the most recent IPCC report, we must reduce CO2 emissions by 50 percent by 2030. There are a suite of transportation-related actions that can be taken in cities that could achieve this goal.

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