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Report: Why Wait? Cities Can Cut Carbon Pollution Now

Getting traffic off the roadways is a key to cutting carbon pollution in major cities, according to a Frontier Group report released by Arizona PIRG. (kichigin/iStockphoto)
Getting traffic off the roadways is a key to cutting carbon pollution in major cities, according to a Frontier Group report released by Arizona PIRG. (kichigin/iStockphoto)
May 24, 2016

PHOENIX - If you're stuck in traffic and breathing fumes from the car ahead of you, a new report outlines ways to cut carbon emissions from vehicles by more than half over the next couple of decades.

Reducing carbon pollution is seen as a long-term goal by many urban planners, but the report says it doesn't need to be - and the tools already exist to make it happen.

It suggests cities could virtually eliminate vehicle emissions by mid-century.

John Olivieri, transportation advocate for the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, says we can and should start cutting carbon now.

"The report lays out kind of a smorgasbord of various strategies that are available to us," says Olivieri. "The overwhelming majority of them are either currently available, or are available to a degree and getting better."

Olivieri says for Arizona, expansion of public transit options will be a big part of the solution.

Transit systems in cities such as Flagstaff, Tucson and Yuma have seen record growth in ridership, and Phoenix voters recently approved a major expansion of local transportation options.

Olivieri says putting more electric vehicles on the road can also make a big difference.

"The report finds electrification of the vehicle fleet, even up to only 53 percent of our fleet by the year 2030, could actually reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 to 60 percent," says Olivieri.

He adds many of the challenges in Arizona are the result of unplanned growth.

"There's no doubt that over the last 50 or 60 years, we have been employing a series of failed policies that have further incentivized urban sprawl," he says. "An area like Arizona provides unique challenges in that respect."

Other recommendations in the report include increased use of ride sharing, smart-growth policies to make it easier to walk and ride bicycles in cities, decreasing the number of parking spaces in urban areas, and developing housing near transportation hubs.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ