Climate Change and the Transportation Sector


The transportation sector of the economy is the leading source of climate-disrupting greenhouse gases, followed closely by the energy sector. 

Some hazardous impacts of global warming such as intensified periods of drought with associated wildfires are already being felt by southwestern communities. These periods of drought and wildfires are projected to increase in risk over the next twenty years. 
Our region is also experiencing more irregular periods of intense rainfall with associated flood risks. Extremes of heat concentrated in urban environments, or the “urban heat island effect”, is another intensifying threat to public health and safety.

Climate change iconSee the Climate Change Hazards Vulnerability Assessment Tool for visualizations of data layers indicating locations in the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area which are most at risk of exposure to extreme heat, wildfires, and flooding hazards.  The tool also includes Census tract-level demographic indicators of where populations of concern for health vulnerability and environmental justice considerations are residentially concentrated within those areas of heightened risk to assist in the prioritization of emergency preparedness and hazard mitigation interventions.

Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crises at Home and Abroad

In 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008, which among things created the Justice40 Initiative with the aim of delivering to disadvantaged communities 40 percent of the overall benefits of new investments in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transit; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and the development of critical clean water infrastructure. On August 18, 2022 the White House announced DOT’s official Justice40 covered programs list.  Please visit the links on the USDOT Justice40 site to learn more about each program. 

In subsequently published implementation guidance, an interim definition of “disadvantaged communities” was provided, which informed the USDOT’s creation of a map to assist applicants in identifying whether a project is located in a disadvantaged community. Consistent with OMB’s Interim Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative, USDOT’s interim definition includes (a) certain qualifying census tracts, (b) any Tribal land, or (c) any territory or possession of the United States. The USDOT is using this interim definition to ask applicants to Justice40-covered programs to identify how their projects benefit disadvantaged communities. 

Regional Map iconThis MRCOG Planning for Equity Communities Viewer presents the qualifying tracts of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area.

Mitigation and Adaptation Measures

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides several hazard mitigation funding resource guides to connect communities with a wide array of potential mitigation funding resources. These resources include grants, loans, technical assistance, and in-kind services from federal, state, territory, and private sources. Each resource includes information about the program, eligibility requirements, cost sharing, and an example of program use, if available.  Additionally, this page provides application support materials for FEMA’s own Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  

Green InfrastructureGreen Infrastructure Example

Green infrastructure (in contrast with the grey concrete materials of built infrastructure) includes the complex, living network of natural systems and processes that work together to ensure a thriving ecosystem and support the life of its inhabitants. 
 Planting trees and other vegetation for cooling via evapotranspiration is one of the most effective means of mitigating the urban heat island effect and removing greenhouse gases form the air. The “triple bottom line” (economic, ecologic, and social) benefits of healthy urban trees include increased neighborhood property values, protection of biodiversity and habitat for migrating birds and pollinators, improved air quality, keeping pollutants out of waterways, reducing urban flooding, and cooling city streets.

Because of the broadly mitigative effects and multiple benefits of supporting green infrastructure health wherever possible, the Long Range Transportation Systems (LRTS) Guide provides additional information on implementation of “Green Street” design, such as specific roadway designs that incorporate green storm-water infrastructure (GSI) and low-impact development (LID) principles.

LRTS iconLearn more and view the Long Range Transportation Systems (LRTS) Guide

Climate Change Project Summary Documents

In effort to address climate change and improve environmental resiliency in the region as it relates to the built environment, MRMPO conducted the Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project in 2015 and continues to expand these analyses as new data becomes available. The project was a partnership between MRCOG, the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT Volpe Center, and federal land management areas including the Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. A variety of mitigation and adaptation measures were developed that continue to be relevant. This information is included in the following documents:

Climate Change Project Integration Plan

The Integration Plan explores potential implementation strategies for the following policy focus areas: Transportation Climate Change Adaptation Assessment; Mitigating GHG Emissions from Electricity Generation; Incentivizing Transit-Oriented Activity Centers; Regional Support for Travel Demand Management; and Open Space Preservation Programs and Policies.

View the MRCOG Integration Plan (PDF).