"The city tried to get congestion pricing to pass, and for political reasons, it didn't work. Now here's an opportunity to try other strategies and still mitigate greenhouse gases from the transport sector," he said. "I think it's providing an interesting testing ground."
Who will make the needed investments?
The problem with implementing transportation-related adaptation or mitigation strategies in New York, or elsewhere, is that there are not enough resources to do so, even if there is enough will, said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C.
"I think it's harder and harder to ignore the reality that we need to make some upfront investments now in order to avoid paying more later," Schank said. "But I still think it's a hard sell to people. When the storm recedes and things get back to normal, asking people to pay more is going to be very different than recognizing the need [to act]."
Cuomo said this week that he expects the federal government to pick up most of the tab for rebuilding a "stronger and better" New York City.
But the federal government is facing a massive deficit and earlier this year could only find enough money to pass a two-year surface transportation bill, so it may not be in the best position to help out, said Schank. Further, Congress has been largely silent on the climate issue.
"The federal government has been, for the most part, denying the existence of climate change, and that has unfortunately extended to transportation funding and transportation planning processes, which do not account for adaptation to climate change," Schank said.
"And that is part of why we saw the devastation that we saw today, because we haven't been acknowledging it and, therefore, we haven't planned to adapt to it or made changes to reduce emissions."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500.