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Biden’s climate pledge: A bold goal that will only be met with a transportation transformation

Apr 22, 2021

Corinne Kisner, Executive Director of the National Association of City Transportation Officials today issued the following statement in response to Biden’s pledge to reduce U.S. carbon emissions 50% by 2030

Today, Earth Day, President Biden made a bold commitment to cut in half the U.S.’s carbon emissions by 2030. NACTO applauds this ambitious goal and timeline, as our window for preventing the most catastrophic impacts of climate change is rapidly closing.

The path is clear: halving America’s carbon emissions will require fundamentally changing U.S. transportation. The single largest source–28%–of American greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, and most of those emissions are from private cars.

Electrifying our vehicles is an important step but will not, by itself, be enough to reach Biden’s goal. We must also fundamentally shift how we travel. Decades of prioritizing vehicles over people on our streets made private cars the most convenient (and sometimes only) option for most trips. Championing new policies and investing in public transit–not just stations and rail lines, but frequent, reliable service–can reverse this unsustainable path.

Biden must start with what his Administration controls: Awarding funding to projects that meet equity, safety, and climate goals, and blocking projects that worsen safety and emissions outcomes. He must also clear the red tape that prevents cities from using proven strategies like congestion pricing and street design to make walking, biking, and taking transit safer and more attractive.

Adminstrative action will be a drop in the climate bucket without a fundamental shift in transportation priorities in Congress. The nation’s transportation law, governing the U.S.’s transportation spending and policy, expires this year, giving America a once-in-a-five-year opportunity to champion investments in transit (including funding reliable, convenient service), and street redesigns, rather than new roads.

Biden’s target is ambitious, and necessary. And only transforming the business-as-usual transportation paradigm can get us there.


About the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
NACTO is an association of 89 major North American cities and transit agencies formed to exchange transportation ideas, insights, and practices and cooperatively approach national transportation issues. The organization’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter at @NACTO.

Alexander Engel | [email protected] | 646.324.2919

For Immediate Release
April 22, 2021