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From Climate Summit to US Climate Bill

copenhagen (JP2)

(photo credit: J. Peel)

As the end of the Climate Summit draws near, tensions between world leaders over emission reduction targets continue to grow.  Today, Governor Schwarzenegger told the Climate Summit that international agreements alone will not slow climate change.  He calls on states, cities, regions, and provinces to take on the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions.  California, for example, is currently on track to reduce carbon emissions 30 percent by 2020.

The US is in need of a more aggressive climate policy especially in regard to transportation. Considering that 33 percent of all emissions in the United States come from transportation, clean transportation is a critical part of reducing domestic emissions.  Unfortunately, the current draft of the climate bill, “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act” (S. 1733) allocates only 2.4 percent of funds towards clean transportation investments.  While this is an improvement from the House bill (HR2454) which reserved a meager 1 percent for clean transportation, it is certainly a far cry from the 10 percent included in its predecessor, CLEAN-TEA (S.575).

As one of the world’s top cycling cities, Copenhagen is an international leader in sustainable transportation, exemplifying the kind of lifestyle changes necessary for a sustainable future.  In 2008, Denmark’s long-term green transportation plan recognized that “public transport and bicycles must carry the greatest part of the projected growth in traffic”.  As a result, Copenhagen is currently on track to increase its bicycle mode share from 36 percent to 50 percent by 2015, saving 80,000 tons of CO2 a year.  As the Climate Summit comes to a close on December 18, we can only hope that lessons learned in Copenhagen will translate into a US climate bill that more accurately addresses the need for significant investments in clean transportation.

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