Meeting climate challenge requires both electrification and compact cities
Two recent studies make clear that for the world to not heat up by 2°C, we must fully electrify transportation — 84% of the world's passenger vehicle fleet — and significantly reduce how much we drive — 52% fewer miles per person — by 2050.
In Snohomish County, more than half of our greenhouse gas emissions are transportation-related, mostly from passenger vehicles. This is higher than any other county in the region, and our region already has a higher proportion of transportation GHG emissions than the rest of the state. In order for Snohomish County to do its part, we will need to be more aggressive on electrifying vehicles, reducing vehicle trips, and building compact cities than almost anywhere else in the region, state, and even the world.
Building compact cities that rely more on walking, biking, and transit will have major co-benefits for our priority populations. It's an opportunity to build sidewalk networks that are ADA-accessible, and to have neighborhoods where people with disabilities don't need to go as far. As people age, they will be able to live more socially connected lives. The lower costs of walking and transit will save low income households money, and the increased number of jobs near people's homes will increase socio-economic mobility.
Getting there will require big lifts by all jurisdictions to spend transportation dollars on infrastructure that benefits people walking, rolling, biking, and riding transit instead of driving, and planning compact communities focused around these investments — while also electrifying buses, trucks, cars, and bicycles. What's also evident is this shift must happen now, not in a future funding cycle.