Climate Change

Why Climate Change Matters

Climate change is an observed phenomenon where global, regional, and local climate patterns are in flux because of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide which is attributable to the mass consumption of fossil fuels namely for transportation, electricity, and heat. Over the past century alone the average surface air temperature has increased by almost 2 degrees making the current timeframe the warmest in modern civilization.

Metro Atlanta experiences a wide variety of weather extremes from extended heat waves to gripping ice storms, from multi-year droughts to tropical depressions, and even the occasional tornado. These events not only pose health and safety risks to the region’s citizens but also pose challenges for maintaining and rebuilding infrastructure.

ARC’s Strategies to Address Climate Change

In the US, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). ARC develops strategies for reducing transportation-based GHG emissions through programs such as Georgia Commute Options (the regional transportation demand management strategy), and the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI). GHG mitigation strategies have mutually beneficial outcomes for public health and mobility.

In addition to GHG mitigation, ARC is studying how to adapt our current and planned transportation system to ensure the resilience of our communities.

Previous Climate Change Work

Understanding Climate Change and the Impact of Community Design on GHG Emissions (2014 Study)

Previous efforts by ARC to quantify GHG emissions focused on the regional level, with little detail about how community characteristics impact emissions directly. This study calculates the Atlanta region’s contribution to climate change, as measured by GHG emissions produced by transportation and household energy use at a community scale.

With improved knowledge of how planning and development decisions impact GHG emissions, planners, policy-makers and citizens can make more informed decisions. Communities with sustainability goals that include GHG mitigation should consider the key findings in this report when drawing up future changes to land use and transportation plans.

Emissions data can be found on ARC's interactive monitoring dashboard, DASH.

Transportation Efficiency Assessment Method (TEAM)

In 2015, ARC partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate emission benefits from four scenarios that implement a cascading set of transportation policies and programs. These policies focused on nontraditional transportation and land use improvements such as employer-based transportation management programs, transit improvements, smart growth and related land use strategies, as well as road and parking pricing. These strategies were aimed at reducing mobile source emissions by reducing vehicle travel activity. These programs are comprehensive and the emissions are difficult to account for using ARC’s existing models and methods.

The findings of the report indicate that the Atlanta region could reduce emissions by as much as 9%. Improving the region’s parking pricing policies and better supporting smart land use near transit and major employment centers were the most effective strategies in reducing GHG emissions.

TEAM Report  

Other Work

Transportation and Land Use Scenarios (2009 Study)

Five scenario tests incorporating different land use strategies, as well as the new CAFE standard for fuel economy were analyzed for future impact on GHG emissions and compared to 1990 conditions. All 2030 scenario tests still result in an increase of at least 50 percent in GHG emissions.

ARC’s climate change white paper and presentation (2009)

Climate Change Scenario Planning Workshop Material (2010)