Green public transit a top priority at Rio+20

In 2010, the U.S Census Bureau's American Community Survey showed that the number of cycling commuters in the country had increased by almost 40 percent in the past 10 years. However, bike riders still make up less than one percent of American commuters, so in order to limit daily carbon emissions, other modes of transportation will have to become more energy-efficient.

For those who travel too far for walking or riding a bike to be a viable option, riding public transportation has long been a means to reduce commuters' individual carbon footprints. A recent announcement from the U.N. Sustainable Development Conference in Rio de Janeiro indicates that this practice will be enabled and encouraged across the globe.

Reuters reports that eight of the world's largest banks, including World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, have pledged to invest $175 billion into sustainable transportation programs on a global scale over the next 10 years.

The source states that this commitment was largely motivated by reports that urban populations in certain African and Asian countries are expected to balloon in the coming years. In order to accommodate the surge, cities will need to install efficient transportation systems to combat increased congestion and pollution.

At the conference, the banks issued a statement predicting the amount of money various regions would need to implement new sustainable transportation systems, or revamp existing ones, saying that Africa would need $2.5 trillion and Asia would need $18.3 trillion by 2020. Transportation in Latin America is expected to require $700 billion in this time.

But, this investment won't solely go toward building new systems. According to the banks, "If current trends continue, the transportation sector will become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, accounting for 46 percent of global emissions by 2035," which indicates that existing transportation systems need to be modified as well.

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