On Sunday, Tri-State Transportation Campaign will be joining more than 1,400 organizations and hundreds of thousands of people in solidarity for a new approach to climate change: the People’s Climate March. It will be an unprecedented mass acknowledgement of the inequity of climate change around the world. And, this will be our collective moment to change the discourse and alter the outcome.
The environmental movement has progressed from protection of water resources to eradication of toxins to protection of air quality and endangered species to combating destruction of the ozone layer and the decimation of our rainforests. For the most part, people were the backdrop for these goals, seldom the lead actors in the story.
The People’s Climate March knits these goals into a shared narrative that puts people at the forefront of a new environmental movement. This March is foremost about the extreme vulnerabilities faced by some populations as a result of our climate inaction: poor and indigenous people who inhabit our waterfronts, live within forest societies and border our polluting industries. The inequity embedded in our consumption of fossil fuels and consumer goods must be addressed at the human level. With this March, we can alter this discourse and make this inequity the core of the climate change movement moving forward. It’s an opportunity to rebrand 21st century environmentalism around what matters: People.
What does this have to do with transportation?
In the New York metro region, the transportation sector contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions – in New York and Connecticut, the transportation sector represents the second biggest contributor; in New Jersey it is the first – yet transportation solutions to mitigate greenhouse gases are often afterthoughts. And the impacts of poor transportation decisions, much like the impacts of poor environmental decisions, on the poor or on communities of color are also ignored. Tri-State has worked for over 20 years in partnership with individuals and organizations to highlight the transportation inequities of car-dependent communities, such as:
- Concentration of unwanted transportation infrastructure and pollution in poor communities and communities of color
- No or limited access to jobs and resources for those without a car
- High pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities among seniors and children
- Disproportionate share of household income spent on transportation/housing costs
- Long and challenging commutes for those who are transit-dependent
Despite the environmental benefits of shifting people from cars to greener, cleaner transportation modes such as bikes, transit and walking, the transportation sector has not been fully adopted into the larger environmental movement, outside of the push for clean vehicles and freight. Consider these multimodal transportation benefits:
- Key bus rapid transit features such as designated lanes, traffic signal prioritization and off-board fare collection helps reduce emissions by up to 40 percent
- Walking and biking for short trips rather than driving can reduce emissions by up to 12-22 million tons annually, and by up to 9 to 23 million tons annually for longer trips
- Hybrid buses can reduce emissions by as much as 75 percent compared to conventional diesel buses
- An average household living near transit can reduce its transportation-related GHG emissions by 43 percent
The People’s Climate March is an opportunity to break down the silos we’ve created and join together as people working towards a shared goal: a more equitable, clean, sustainable world to enjoy today and leave behind for the generations to come. Our efforts combined are much stronger than our efforts separated.
Join us Sunday; naturally, we’ll be in the “We Have the Solutions” section between 74th and 75th Streets.