More than 100 investors and companies urge states to adopt the Transportation and Climate Initiative

More than 100 investors and companies urge states to adopt the Transportation and Climate Initiative

A diverse group of more than 100 investors, companies and institutions across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions called on governors to support a major policy initiative that would help to decarbonize the heavy-emitting transportation sector and invest in modern, low-carbon solutions.

In letters sent today to the region’s governors and the mayor of Washington DC, the signatories, which include AkamaiDHLLyftNestléNovartisState StreetWayfair and Uber, among others — hailed the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) as a critical and necessary effort to accelerate the transition to clean transportation, improve public health and reduce harmful air pollutants. Ceres, Climate Collaborative, Climate Group, Second Nature, Healthcare Without Harm, B Lab and others helped to coordinate the letters.

The signatories called on governors to sign a final Memorandum of Understanding to launch the initiative in their respective states and incorporate equity, public health and emission reductions as priorities for investments.

With the scale of the climate crisis, the signatories note that “there is an urgency to create a transportation future that enables economic growth and substantial decarbonization.”

Decarbonizing the transportation sector can enable economic growth and improve public health in many ways:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and co-pollutants from transportation;
  • Expand and upgrade public transit, alternative transportation and road infrastructure;
  • Invest in infrastructure to reduce vehicle miles traveled from bike lanes to broadband; and
  • Direct investments to underserved and overburdened communities to help alleviate the historical inequities of transportation pollution.

Earlier this week, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health released the Transportation, Equity, Climate, and Health (TRECH) study with preliminary findings illustrating the potential air quality and health benefit outcomes of TCI under five different potential policy scenarios. The study found that under the scenario with the most ambitious cap on emissions, up to 1,000 deaths and 5,000 asthma cases could be avoided annually by the year 2032.

The study also showed that, while all five scenarios would modestly reduce inequalities in air pollution exposure by race and ethnicity, the equity and health benefits of TCI would be greatest with the most stringent cap on emissions and with significant investment in public transit and biking and walking infrastructure. However, the implementation of TCI alone would not solve for the reality that people of color face higher overall exposure to air pollution and therefore additional policies will be needed to address continuing inequalities in pollutant exposure.

“The profound connection between increased exposure to vehicle emissions and elevated mortality rates from COVID-19 highlights the need for immediate action to tackle emissions from the region’s transportation system,” said Kyle Tafuri, Director of Sustainability at Hackensack Meridian Health. “TCI presents an all-important opportunity to improve access to clean air for vulnerable communities while helping to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis.”

As state leaders develop investment plans for TCI revenue, business leaders from across the region are looking to them to prioritize investments in programs that further reduce harmful emissions, put people back to work, and help alleviate the historical inequities of transportation pollution.

“A just transition to a clean, modern transportation system is an essential step to combating climate change,” said Chris Miller, Head of Global Activism Strategy at Ben & Jerry’s. “Low-income communities and communities of color continue to bear the brunt of harmful transportation emissions. Regional collaboration through TCI is needed to improve access to clean transportation in overburdened and underserved communities.”

“As a manufacturer with operations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Virginia, Worthen Industries understands the critical role transportation plays in the region’s economy,” said David Worthen, CEO of Worthen Industries. “By working together, the region’s governors are seizing the opportunity to further tackle the challenges of climate change and transform our transportation system into a more modern, electrified and efficient system.”

This letter comes as the 12 participating jurisdictions are in the midst of collaborating to incorporate new equity provisions and updated modeling into the final MOU.

“Businesses, investors and higher education institutions are eager to work with states and interested stakeholders to develop an inclusive implementation process where rapid investments are made into transportation decarbonization strategies,”said Alli Gold Roberts, Director of State Policy at Ceres. “The gravity of the climate, equity and public health crises we face demands it.”

All of the letters to the states can be viewed here.

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