By Hugh Welsh
New Jersey is a key transportation hub. With major interstates, railways, ports and airports, our transportation system is vital to the state’s economy. It is also a major contributor to climate change. With more than 40% of New Jersey’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions coming from transportation — more than any other sector—the state must take local and regional action to transition to a clean, modern transportation system.
As a global company with North American headquarters in Parsippany, DSM is fully invested in ensuring New Jersey is a leader when it comes to forward-thinking climate policies, as well as a great place to do business. That’s why we are committed to prioritizing sustainability in our own operations and to advocating for bold policies to help the Garden State tackle the climate challenge — such as the groundbreaking electric vehicle legislation New Jersey leaders just passed into law and efforts to scale up investments in our public transportation system.
This is a great start, but we know we need to do more to solve our transportation challenges and curb pollution from the sector. So, we are also calling on New Jersey leaders to consider the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI).
TCI is a regional proposal from 12 states (including New Jersey) and the District of Columbia to curb emissions from the transportation sector by establishing a regional cap on carbon emissions, and requiring gasoline and diesel wholesalers to purchase allowances for the emissions content of their fuel. Proceeds from the TCI allowance sales would be funneled back to participating states to invest in a cleaner, more efficient transportation system. As we work to decarbonize the transportation sector, the need for allowance sales will decrease until they are no longer needed.
This policy structure is called cap-and-invest. It’s an exceedingly smart way to structure a policy, and one that differs from a traditional gas tax. By designing the policy around the ultimate goal of reducing transportation emissions, TCI ensures that the revenues raised will go toward solutions to our transportation challenges. The program does not pick winners and losers when it comes to technology solutions. Instead, it creates incentives to let the market decide the best way to reduce transportation emissions—whether that’s from investments in public transit, electric vehicle infrastructure, rural broadband to support telecommuting and telemedicine, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, advanced biofuels, or a combination of these solutions to tackle transportation emissions.
As a company with operations in six of the proposed TCI states, the regional approach means that neighboring states will all commit to the same goal — and that we can all work together to make our shared vision a reality.
With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why DSM is not alone in our support for TCI. More than 50 companies have endorsed the initiative, while recent polling showed that 67% of New Jerseyans are supportive of TCI and the possibilities it presents for modernizing the way we move people and goods around the region.
A recent report from Rutgers University laid out the dangers of climate change and rising sea levels to New Jersey, projecting more than six feet of sea level rise by the end of the century. This report is the latest example of the urgent need to dramatically reduce GHG emissions—especially from the transportation sector—if we are going to stave off the worst impacts of climate change to our economy and the health and wellbeing of our communities.
New Jersey has made some impressive strides in recent years when it comes to climate action — setting ambitious goals to procure more offshore wind and put more electric vehicles on our roads. Achieving these goals will attract investments, create new local jobs and put New Jersey on the path to a thriving, zero-carbon economy. TCI is a vital next move because it will generate the revenue needed to successfully implement these policies and ensure New Jersey businesses and residents can all reap the associated benefits.
DSM urges New Jersey leaders to take this important step toward a better future. Let’s join TCI and build a clean, modern transportation system that works for New Jersey and the entire region.
Hugh C. Welsh is the president of DSM North America.