Friday, June 16, 2017

If cities really want to fight climate change, they have to fight cars

On June 1, the U.S. Climate Mayors — a network of more than 300 city leaders, including the mayors of the country’s five largest cities — published a commitment to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement.” The cities would carry out the promises Donald Trump had abandoned.

Cars are responsible for many ills in communities,
among the huge impact of climate change.
I have bad news for this feel-good caucus. Want to fight climate change? You have to fight cars. In the nation’s largest cities, cars account for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Nationally, transportation is now the single largest contributor to carbon emissions.

And it gets worse, at least from a political perspective. Mayors can fund transit, build bus and bike lanes, end free parking, and reform building codes that require it. (Though they mostly don’t.) But ultimately, the only way to combat American automobile dependency is to reform the way we build, and in particular, to help avoid low-density settlement patterns that make it impractical or impossible for Americans to get anywhere without a personal car.


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