Which is a pretty long introduction to a new report that will make smart growth harder to ignore as a carbon-reducing strategy. In particular, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) released a study last Friday documenting how comprehensive application of smart growth best practices and improved transportation choices can significantly reduce transportation emissions at a cost savings to society. The report makes a strong case for investing a portion of cap-and-trade revenues in smart growth. Here are some of the key findings:
— Smart growth and smart transportation choices can reduce the amount Americans need to drive - as measured in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) - by 10 percent per capita from 2005 levels.
— A 10 percent reduction in per capita VMT would reduce annual transportation emissions by 145 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (MMTCO2) in the year 2030, equivalent to the annual emissions of about 30 million cars or 35 large coal plants.
— These reductions would equal approximately 6 percent of the 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goal proposed in the American Clean Energy and Security Act.
As Felix Salmon points out, one of the most important points of the study is that investments in transit can actually have negative costs; that is, we end up getting more money back than their cost. It is not just about being green; smart growth actually is good for the economy as a whole.