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Alan McKinnon – Professor of Logistics

THE 
LOGISTICS BLOG

Current issues in logistics and transport

Trump climate change and transport

I have just spent a week in Washington DC on the eve of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration. At the two transportation conferences I attended there was much dismay about the prospects for government action on climate change during the Trump presidency. Even before he assumes power, however, climate change scepticism, if not outright denial, is deeply entrenched in much of the US electorate and political process. The fossil-fuel industry, the lobbying organizations its funds and the numerous Republican politicians it sponsors have admirably prepared the ground for a climate-change denying president. A Gallup opinion poll found that climate change was rated 12th out of the thirteen most important issues in the 2016 presidential election. Clearly if it had been a major electoral differentiator, the candidate declaring that global warming is ‘bullshit’ and ‘a total, and very expensive, hoax’ would probably not be entering the White House next week.

I found it disconcerting to listen to senior officials from the transportation departments of several States explain how little they could say or do about climate change. The constraint is partly linguistic. One official explained how in promoting transport initiatives to politicians and the public they had to avoid using the words sustainability, environment and climate change. Another claimed that the only way to get carbon-reducing measures accepted in his state was to emphasise the ‘co-benefits’ such as fuel savings, better health and fewer accidents. One even said that he risked being reprimanded if it was discovered he had attended a conference session on climate change!

The fact that the session was on the adaptation aspects of climate change would probably have made it more acceptable. The increasing frequency, duration and intensity of extreme weather events has forced a reluctant acceptance that climate is changing and transportation systems need to adapt. This is clearly acknowledged in the US National Climate Assessments. These four-yearly assessments, however, say very little about the mitigation measures that need to be put in place to protect future generations against much more extreme weather. The US may have signed up to the COP21 climate change agreement, but many transport policy-makers and planners remain hesitant to promote overtly carbon-reducing strategies. This is rather worrying, given that transportation accounts for a third of the country’s total CO2 emissions.

Thankfully, some states are adopting a much more robust approach to the issue. In California, where a target has been set to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% between 1990 and 2030 and where 36% of these emissions come from transport, decarbonisation efforts are more advanced and more explicit. As in other environmental matters, the ‘golden state’ is setting a good example to other states and indeed the Federal government, in its commitment to drive down transport-related GHG emissions.

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© Professor Alan McKinnon 2017

Kuehne Logistics University
Hamburg
Germany

contactme@alanmckinnon.co.uk

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© Professor Alan McKinnon 2017

 

Kuehne Logistics University
Hamburg
Germany

 

contactme@alanmckinnon.co.uk

 

Contact me

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Sitemap

Reset cookies

 
Web design by Wordspree