Avoiding Clean Congestion: Low-carbon vehicles and travel-efficient communities

By Steve Winkelman

“Clean congestion” is what we’ll get if we rely only on vehicle technology to meet climate goals. Even with massive uptake of clean vehicle technologies by 2040, we will still need to reduce driving to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goals.

The Avoiding Clean Congestion video presentation answers the following questions:

  • How have transportation GHGs increased since 1990, and why?

  • Where are we headed?

  • How would major uptake of clean vehicle technologies impact GHGs in 2040?

    • What impact would Automated Vehicles have?

  • How can we meet climate change goals and avoid clean congestion?

    • What reductions in driving (VMT) are necessary?             

    • What policies can help?

Technology is essential − but not sufficient − to achieving needed greenhouse gas reductions. We need good land use planning and urban design to create walkable, transit-oriented communities. And those communities will be more accessible, equitable, prosperous and resilient.

The video provides the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • Electric vehicles improve air quality, making walking and cycling more pleasant, more practical and healthier.

  • Travel-efficient communities can reduce GHGs and increase accessibility, quality of life, equity, resilience and prosperity.

  • We can avoid clean congestion through a variety of federal, state and local policies:

    • Ask the Climate Question:  Does public infrastructure spending advance low-carbon, resilient communities?

    • Set GHG reduction targets for states and MPOs

    • Prioritize and invest in low-carbon transportation mode

    • Measure the right things: GHG and VMT per capita, access

    • Integrate land use, transportation, housing and climate policies

    • Provide Incentives and targets to reduce VMT/capita

    • Price parking, congestion/VMT and un-pooled rides

Watch the Avoiding Clean Congestion video presentation (7 minutes):

Click here for more information on data sources and key assumptions underlying the calculations in the video.

Summary graphics:

2040 AV.GIF
Prioritize low-carbon transport modes

Prioritize low-carbon transport modes