A Transportation Research Program for Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change and Conserving Energy (TRB Special Report 299)

In 2008, the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Executive Committee recognized that major legislation might be enacted in 2009 that could have profound effects on future surface transportation policies at all levels of government. The TRB Executive Committee recognized that new research and policy analysis would be needed to inform decisions at all levels of government in responding to the challenges of reducing transportation energy consumption and GHG emissions. In reviewing proposals for transportation research programs as part of reauthorizing the federal surface transportation program, the Executive Committee also found a gap: no proposals explicitly addressed research to mitigate GHG emissions and energy consumption attributable to passenger and freight travel, or to adapt to climate change. Also of concern was the lack of discussion and analysis concerning how proposals to change travel demand might interact with the system in place to raise revenues for surface transportation. In response to its concerns about gaps in proposed research programs, the Executive Committee recommended a study to suggest research programs to fill those gaps. This report is the product of that study.

The report focuses on surface transportation infrastructure and operations, specifically on research programs that could provide guidance to officials at all levels responsible for policies that affect the use of such infrastructure. The report also aims to help officials begin to adapt infrastructure to climatic changes already occurring or expected to occur in the next several decades.

Chapter 4 of this report, 'Adaptation Research and Development,' reviews the expected climate impacts on transportation infrastructure and potential responses, and outlines an adaptation research program. The adaptation chapter draws primarily on TRB Special Report 290: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation. This chapter first provides a brief summary of the main findings and recommendations of Special Report 290, with emphasis on those relating to research. It then outlines a program that responds to those findings and recommendations: it identifies research topics, estimates the cost of the research, and identifies criteria for a successful research program.




Publication Date: 2009

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