Night traffic

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. are home to major cities and sprawling road networks. All that traffic creates a lot of carbon pollution.

“Transportation issues are multi-state and regional by their very nature, so it really does make a lot of sense to tackle them in a regional way,” says James Bradbury of the Georgetown Climate Center.

The Georgetown Climate Center facilitates the Transportation and Climate Initiative, a collaboration between Washington, D.C., and 12 states.

To reduce transportation emissions, members of the group are developing a regional cap-and-invest program.

It could take effect as early as 2022. When it does, it would require fuel suppliers to hold allowances – essentially permits – for the carbon pollution caused by the fuel they distribute.

“And the total number of allowances would be capped and then decline over time to ensure that you actually get the emissions reductions,” Bradbury says.

The allowances will be bought and sold at auction, and the proceeds will help fund clean transportation. For example, they could be used for mass transit, bike paths, or incentives for electric vehicles.

So Bradbury says the program should improve mobility while reducing carbon pollution.

Reporting credit: Stephanie Manuzak/ChavoBart Digital Media.