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Resources to "Cut Carbs" from the Transportation Sector

For transportation professionals: the policy context and resources for reducing GHGs from Oregon's transportation sector.

Adaptation Resources


ODOT Climate Change Adaptation Strategy Report. This report provides an assessment of the climate change impacts to ODOT; underscores the need for an in-depth vulnerability and risk assessment of ODOT’s assets and systems operations; and highlights potential adaptation strategies and existing adaptive capacity within ODOT. Click here for the report. [PDF]

TRB Special Report 290: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation. This report discusses potential impacts of climate change on U.S. transportation and suggests appropriate adaptation strategies and organizational responses. The Transportation Research Board and National Academies’ Division on Earth and Life Studies formed a committee comprised of experts in climate science, meteorology, transportation planning and engineering, transportation operations and maintenance, risk analysis, and economics to conduct the study. More info here [PDF].

Climate Change Impact Assessment for Surface Transportation in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The Washington State Department of Transportation released a report that develops a vulnerability assessment of the risks that climate change poses to the surface transportation infrastructure system in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska region. OTREC (Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium) supported development of the report. Click here for a PDF of this 2012 report.

Climate Adaptation & Transportation: Identifying Information and Assistance Needs. This report by CCAP and EESI presents the findings of a NOAA-funded workshop in which transportation and climate change experts identified critical information and technical assistance needs for climate adaptation. Click here for this 2012 report.

Mitigation Resources

Oregon Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Toolkit. Produced through the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative, the toolkit is intended primarily to help staff and officials from local jurisdictions learn about GHG reduction actions and programs which can be implemented at the local level. The toolkit contains: a searchable Database of actions and programs with research backed estimates of CO2 emissions reduction potential and cost effectiveness estimates; a Modeling and Analysis Tools Report summarizes the technical tools currently available to evaluate packages of programs and actions intended to reduce GHG emissions; case studies which demonstrate the implementation of some of the actions and programs included in the database; and a Communications guide which provides advice on best practices for talking about climate change. Find this 2012 toolkit here

Cool Planning: A Handbook on Local Strategies to Slow Climate Change. This handbook published by the Oregon Transportation and Growth Management Program (TGM) in 2010 helps local governments apply land use, community design, and transportation planning strategies to the reduction of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. Download the 2010 handbook here. 
Mindmap: Elements Affecting GHG Emissions from Transportation. This dynamic mind map developed by ODOT senior transportation analyst Brian Gregor shows factors and actions that affect GHG emissions from the transportation sector. The user can navigate through the mind map to discover information and impacts based on specific sections and sub-sections. To “test drive” the mindmap click here.

Growing Wealthier. This study by the Center for Clean Air Policy concludes that comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices could significantly reduce GHG emissions from transportation at a cost savings to society. Find this 2011 report here.

Moving Cooler: An Analysis of Transportation Strategies for Reducing GHG Emissions. This cutting-edge report conducted by Cambridge Systematics, published by the Urban Land Institute, and commissioned by a diverse group of stakeholders (transportation experts, industry, federal agencies, environment organizations and other NGOs) examines the effects, costs and benefits of deployment of a variety of technologies and techniques for reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector. Find this 2009 report here.

Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change. This study documents how key changes in land development patterns could help reduce vehicle GHG emissions. It was developed as part of the Urban Land Institute’s sustainability initiative in cooperation with Smart Growth America, Center for Clean Air Policy, and National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education. Based on a comprehensive review of dozens of studies by leading urban planning researchers, the book concludes that urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it. Find this 2007 report here.

Driving and the Built Environment: The Effects of Compact Development on Motorized Travel, Energy Use, and CO2 Emissions. This Transportation Research Board Special Report 298 establishes the scientific basis for making appropriate judgments about the relationships among development patterns, VMT, energy consumption and GHGs. The study committee (which included members with expertise in transportation planning, metropolitan area planning, and land use; transportation behavior; transportation and land use modeling; geography; energy conservation; and economics) also provided policy and research recommendations. Find this 2009 report here [PDF]. Smart Growth America has provided a response TRB Special Report 298, which argues that the benefits of compact growth are even larger than the report’s findings.

Land Use and Driving: The Role Compact Development Can Play in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions. This report from the Urban Land Institute summarizes the land use findings in Moving Cooler, Growing Cooler, and Driving and the Built Environment and translates them into clear, accessible terms. Access this 2010 report here.

Cost-Effective GHG Reductions through Smart Growth & Improved Transportation Choices. In this 2009 report, the Center for Clean Air Policy analyzes the benefits of reducing GHG emissions through smart growth, improved transportation choices, and transportation pricing and estimates that comprehensive application of best practices could reduce annual GHG emissions 145 MMTCO2 in 2030 — equivalent to the annual emissions of some 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants. Their analysis indicates that these reductions can be achieved profitably, when factoring in avoided infrastructure costs, consumer savings and projected tax revenue growth. See the report here [PDF].

CCAP Transportation Emissions Guidebook. This two-part guidebook provides basic “rules of thumb” to calculate emissions reductions from the implementation of specific transportation and land use policies by state and local governments. The Guidebook Emissions Calculator covers GHGs, air pollution and energy use. Part One focuses on Land Use, Transit & Travel Demand Management. Part Two focuses on Vehicle Technologies and Fuels. See both reports here. (To access the free CCAP guidebook, you'll have to complete a form. This information is for CCAP records only and will not be sold or made available to the public.)

Principles for Improving Transportation Options in Rural and Small Town Communities. This white paper by Transportation for America discusses the transportation challenges facing small town America—not congestion, but access. Long commutes, volatile energy prices, and shifting demographics all impact the prosperity of our smaller communities; and many small towns and rural areas lack the financial resources, planning capacity, or authority to implement solutions to their transportation needs. Read the white paper here.

Communities Tackle Global Warming: A Guide to California’s SB 375. Passed in 2008, California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, or SB 375, is the nation’s first legislation to link transportation and land use planning with global warming. The Natural Resources Defense Council and California League of Conservation Voters produced a guide in 2009 that describes key elements of the legislation and how it is being implemented. California’s experience should prove useful as other communities move forward on new planning paradigms. See the guide here.  

Integrating State and Local Government Policy Approaches to Transportation and Climate Change. This paper summarizes an executive peer exchange, including teams from California, Florida, Maryland, Missouri and Washington, that focused on the success of and barriers to implementing projects that reduce transportation GHG emissions. The peer exchange was sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Center for Clean Air Policy, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Find the summary here.

Additional Resources

Policy in Motion: Transportation Planning in California after AB 32. This book examines California’s transportation planning initiatives since passage of the landmark greenhouse gas bill, AB 32. Learn more and purchase the book here.

Two Billion Cars. At present, there are roughly a billion motor vehicles in the world. Within twenty years, the number will double to two billion. Daniel Sperling and Deborah Gordon’s 2009 book discusses the implications of this doubling, as well as means for mitigating the detrimental effects. See Dan Sperling being interviewed by Jon Stewart of the Daily Show.

Where We Want To Be: Household Location Preferences and Their Implications for Smart Growth. This paper by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute investigates consumer housing preferences and their implications for future urban development patterns. Market research indicates that households increasingly prefer smart growth features such as location accessibility (indicated by shorter commutes), land use mix (indicated by nearby shops and services), and transportation diversity (indicated by good walking conditions and public transit services), and many will choose small-lots and attached homes that offer these features over large-lot sprawl homes that do not. The current stock of large-lot housing should be adequate for decades, but the supply of small-lot and attached housing will need to approximately double by 2025 to meet consumer demands. Find the report here [PDF].

Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program. Many communities want to foster economic growth, protect environmental resources, enhance public health, and plan for development, but may lack the tools, resources, and information to achieve their goals. In response to this demand, the EPA developed the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program. More info here.

Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes. EPA’s Development, Community, and Environment Division, also known as the Smart Growth Program, has produced a document to help communities that may not wish to revise or replace their entire system of codes and ordinances, but nevertheless are looking for “essential fixes” that will help them create the smarter, more environmentally responsible, and sustainable communities they want. More info here [PDF].

“Cutting Carbs” Workshop Proceedings. The Oregon Environmental Council has held four “Cutting Carbs” workshops for transportation professionals, one in Portland December 2008 and three in Salem, Springfield and Central Point December 2009. Through information, tools and resources, we seek to aid local public and private stakeholders in their ability to reduce transportation-related GHG emissions. Click here for workshop proceedings.

“Cutting Carbs” listserv. Cutting Carbs is a listserv for Oregon transportation professionals who are working to combat climate change within their spheres of influence. The purpose is to share information on news, events, activities, and projects related to reducing transportation’s contribution to global warming. Sign up here.

State-Level Policy Context

To learn about current efforts visit the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative.

In 2004, the Governor’s Advisory Group on Global Warming concluded:

“Global warming is not just another environmental issue. … Absent decisive actions across the globe … [t]he impacts of such changes on Oregon citizens, businesses and environmental values are likely to be extensive and destructive. Coastal and river flooding, snowpack declines, lower summer river flows, impacts to farm and forest productivity, energy cost increases, public health effects, and increased pressures on many fish and wildlife species are some of the effects anticipated by scientists at Oregon and Washington universities.”


The Advisory Group produced a series of recommendations for combating climate change in its 2004 Oregon Strategy for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, which was updated by the Governor’s Climate Change Integration Group in the 2008 A Framework for Addressing Rapid Climate Change. A new interim series of recommendations, the Roadmap to 2020, was adopted by the current Oregon Global Warming Commission on October 28, 2010.

These reports provide strategic recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all sectors, including transportation. Information on the state’s strategy, including these reports, can be found at the Commission's website:

House Bill 2001

HB 2001, passed in 2009, requires the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to set a target for reductions in light vehicle (< 10,000 lb) GHG emissions for the Portland metropolitan area. Metro, the Portland region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), is required to develop two or more land use and transportation scenarios before January 2012 that will not only meet population and employment growth, but also meet the region’s share of necessary reductions in transportation-related GHGs. Metro is then required to work with local governments to adopt the preferred scenario through scheduled updates to transportation and land use plans. The Central Lane MPO for the Eugene-Springfield metropolitan area is similarly required to develop (but not adopt) such a scenario by January 2013.

Recommendations of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force

House Bill 2186, passed in 2009, established a Metropolitan Planning Organization Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force, which brought together Oregon MPO representatives and land use and transportation planning stakeholders, to recommend next steps to engage all six MPOs (Portland Metro MPO, Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study MPO, Corvallis Area MPO, Central Lane MPO, Rogue Valley MPO and Bend MPO) in doing their part to reduce GHGs from transportation. Click here for Task Force proceedings, recommendations and useful resources.

Senate Bill 1059

Senate Bill 1059, passed in 2010, adopts the first phase of the Metropolitan Planning Organization Greenhouse Gas Emissions Task Force’s recommendations by having the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD):

  • develop a state-level strategy to reduce GHGs from transportation
  • set transportation-related GHG targets for Oregon’s six major metropolitan areas
  • develop a toolkit to assist local governments and metropolitan planning organizations in reducing GHGs from transportation
  • develop guidelines for scenario planning (sophisticated transportation and land use planning that meets multiple goals, including protecting our climate)
  • consult with the Oregon University System to educate the public about the need to reduce GHGs from transportation and the costs and benefits of doing so
  • report progress to the next Legislature and an estimate of the costs for local governments to conduct scenario planning and potential sources of funding for that work

ODOT and DLCD are currently working with other state agencies and stakeholders to implement SB 1059. For information on implementation, click here.

Suggestion for additional resources?

Contact Chris Hagerbaumer at the Oregon Environmental Council at chrish at or 503-222-1963 x102.

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