Climate 411

Gas Prices Too High? Take the Bus!

Andy DarrellThis post is by Andy Darrell, vice president for Living Cities at Environmental Defense Fund.

NJ Transit bus, photographed by Adam E. Moreira

The high cost of gas has pushed retail gas purchases down 2 to 3 percent. What are people doing instead? Taking public transportation!

The first quarter report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found that use of public transportation is skyrocketing in tandem with gas prices. Last year 10.3 billion trips were taken on U.S. public transportation — the highest in 50 years. Ridership on streetcars, trolleys, commuter rails, subways, and buses are all up. Even Amtrak ridership is soaring.

This shift presents an historic opportunity.

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Posted in News / Read 8 Responses

For Now, No Congestion Pricing in NYC

Andy DarrellThis post is by Andy Darrell, vice president of the Living Cities Program at Environmental Defense Fund.

Yesterday, the New York State Legislature failed to pass congestion pricing for New York City (see NY1 report), thus forgoing $354 million in federal funds.

Today more than ever, New York and America’s other big cities need solutions for clean air and better transit – our health, climate and economy depend on it. Over the past year, an extraordinary majority of New Yorkers came together to support congestion pricing, and of course today’s setback is very disappointing. But I believe that New York will continue to strive for innovative solutions, and Environmental Defense Fund is dedicated to working with leaders from across the state to help make those solutions real.

Posted in Cars and Pollution / Read 5 Responses

Congestion Pricing Back in the News

Andy DarrellThis post is by Andy Darrell, Regional Director for the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense.

There are way too many cars in New York City – no question about that. Congestion pricing – charging a fee to cars entering the city – is a simple and effective solution.

But some people weren’t so sure about this when Mayor Bloomberg first proposed the plan. So last summer, a commission – on which I serve – was formed to study the issue and make recommendations.

Today, after six months of intensive research, public hearings and debate, we released a draft of our recommendations. And we want your feedback.

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Posted in Cars and Pollution / Read 2 Responses

The Rise of Green Buildings

The author of today’s post, Andy Darrell, is Regional Director for the Living Cities program at Environmental Defense.

Pearl River Tower - ChinaIn 1800, 3 percent of the world’s people lived in urban areas. In the last year, that number is likely to have passed 50 percent [PDF]. The world is becoming urbanized at an extremely fast rate, and as the urban population increases, so does urban development.

This presents an opportunity in the fight against global warming, since energy use in buildings accounts for 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

You might think it costs a lot more to make a building energy efficient, but it doesn’t have to. A building that produces half the usual emissions can cost as little as 1 percent more to build. How can that be?

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New York City's sustainability plan: A bold 'greenprint' for the city's future

Andy Darrell, today’s guest, is director of Environmental Defense’s Living Cities program, and a member of the advisory board that helped the mayor develop the plan.

For the past eight months I’ve been honored to be a part of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s advisory council to develop a city plan for sustainability. The team has been meeting to hammer out ideas for making New York a world model of a “green” megacity.

Frankly, when I joined the Advisory Board, I didn’t know where it would end up. With my colleagues at Environmental Defense, I put forward big ideas for healthy air, less traffic, green buildings and energy efficiency, more trees and parks and cleaned-up waterways. In December 2006, the mayor announced 10 bold goals, including achieving the cleanest air of any big city in the country, cutting greenhouse gases 30 percent from today’s levels by 2030 and making sure that every New Yorker can walk to a park within ten minutes.

Great goals — but could they be made real?

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