The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released in November 2018, described the serious impacts of climate change already being felt throughout the U.S., and made clear that the risks to communities all across the country are growing rapidly.
These findings, along with those in the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report should serve as an immediate call to action. Even if we manage to limit planetary warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, the world will still face increased chances of economic and social upheaval from more severe flooding, droughts, heatwaves, and other climate impacts as well as devastating environmental consequences, the IPCC report warns.
The consensus from leading scientific research academies within the United States and internationally is clear: multiple lines of evidence indicate, and have indicated for years, that our atmosphere is warming, sea levels are rising, the magnitude and frequency of certain extreme weather events is increasing, and that human activity is the primary driver of climate change. As described in the IPCC Special Report, the consensus is that countries around the world must rapidly decarbonize their economies, cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and to near zero by 2050. The U.S. Department of Defense, and leaders within the defense and national security communities, have also recognized climate change as a “national security issue” that requires adapting military operations and planning to ensure readiness.
Despite our understanding of the consequences we will face and the urgency to act, U.S. GHG emissions from fossil fuel combustion increased by 2.7 percent in 2018, according the Rhodium Group. Clearly more action is needed.
While we all recognize the importance of transportation in our daily lives and for our economy, it is also important to recognize that the transportation sector is the largest contributor of GHG emissions in the United States, and is already facing significant impacts from climate change.
There is an urgent need, therefore, to transition to a low-carbon and more resilient transportation system. Such a transition would not only reduce emissions and fight climate change, it also would bring additional important benefits, including protecting public health by reducing conventional air pollution, providing more mobility options, and driving innovation and economic growth through policy action and through public and private investment.