Regional Collaboration Key to the Future of Clean Transportation

The transportation sector is the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector in the Northeast and cleaning the transportation system--through electrification and low emission fuels--is a prime opportunity to help the region achieve its ambitious energy and climate goals, while spurring economic development and making transportation better for consumers.

How to do that was the topic of a revealing symposium hosted by our partners at the Acadia Center and the Climate Policy Lab of the Fletcher School’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy at Tufts University this month. The various panels explored the policies and innovations necessary to achieve a clean transportation future in the Northeast.

Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton kicked off the symposium with opening remarks addressing the outsized impact of transportation in the Commonwealth’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“To hit our 2050 GWSA goals, we need to get serious about the transportation sector,” said Beaton. He stressed that a regional solution involving  states that participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the eastern Canadian provinces is paramount to ensuring a clean transportation future. Following the Secretary’s example, the theme of regional collaboration imbued conversation throughout the event.

The theme of regional collaboration particularly revealed itself during a morning panel on “Regional Climate Policy for the Transportation Sector.” One panelist, David Little of the Regulatory Assistance Project, suggested that what the Northeast needs most to address cleaning transportation is “a Governor to step forward as a leader… to engage other Governors around the region and spur action.” He proposed that a regional cap and invest program modeled on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) could successfully curb transportation emissions in the region.

Other symposium panels included “Electrification of Transportation,” “Transportation of the Future,” and a facilitated discussion on “Building a 21st Century Transportation System,” during which attendees discussed the important question of where the region needs to be by 2030 in regards to clean transportation policy and innovation. The engaging, thought-provoking day then concluded with keynote remarks by Barbara Kates-Garnick and Kelly Sims Gallagher of the Climate Policy Lab.

Surely there is more critical work to be done to ensure a clean transportation future for the Northeast region, and NECEC’s growing network of companies at the forefront of this market look forward to partnering to make sure that happens.  Stay tuned to the NECEC Blog and follow NECEC on Twitter (@NECEC) for latest on our work advancing a regional clean transportation future.

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Alistair Pim

Alistair Pim is NECEC's Vice President, Innovation & Partnerships. He manages NECEC's Strategic Partner Network.