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Ground Transportation and Climate Change

Saturday, Nov 3, 2018

The Five Thousand Pound Life is The Architectural League of New York League's ongoing initiative to rethink our collective future through design in the face of climate change. This conference will engage scholars and practitioners in questions about the future of land-based transportation.

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Transportation: Connection and its costs

How do we imagine transportation futures at a time of climate change? The Five Thousand Pound Life: Transportation explores the relationships between different forms of mobility and climate change by asking scholars and practitioners to unpack the varying relationships between mobility, development patterns, and energy use. We hope to achieve not only deeper understanding of the impact of existing transportation modes, but also projections of less carbon-intensive, more inclusive transport futures.

Overview of Connection and its costs: Land

The current discourse surrounding mobility, the movement of goods, and cities is focused on convenience and mode rather than considering the production of greenhouse gases. This conference will look at radical changes happening in urban transportation through the lens of their potential climate change impacts.

In New York, a 24/7 subway system, citywide bus network, growing web of bike lanes, and dense, walkable neighborhoods provide New Yorkers with personal transportation options that minimize the production of greenhouse gases. Still, according to the Mayor's Office of Sustainability, transportation accounted for 29.9% of the city's total greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. On-road vehicles also emit particulates and other air pollutants such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, which contribute to asthma rates and premature mortality. The City is working to identify opportunities for further emissions reductions from cars and trucks to achieve New York's goal of reducing carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

Advocates for new technologies such as driverless vehicles, electric cars, and digital applications claim that they are responding to climate change imperatives, but these claims need to be further examined. Do new options for personal mobility such as scooters, electric bicycles, and ride-hailing services truly impact the production of greenhouse gases? Are these technologies limited to certain communities of wealth? How can the movement of goods to and in the city be more energy efficient? And what kinds of ideas are architects bringing to the discussion?

This conference will engage scholars and practitioners in questions about the future of land-based transportation. The League is also organizing a Mobility Innovation series that will engage innovators and entrepreneurs to address themes raised in the conference.

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