The Interplay between Environmental Markets and Transportation Investments

中国环境学会  2011年 06月22日

  Lisa Dickson, PG Kleinfelder, USA
   
  In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the extent and complexity of the interactions between the built and natural environments. Climate change will play a significant role in defining the interface between those two venues. Since many investment decisions are often financially-based, there has been a concerted effort to place natural resources and services within an economic framework.  From this came the development of environmental commodities, credit markets and ecosystem service solutions.   
  Assigning a financial value to environmental attributes has allowed decision-makers to view the trade-offs within a common framework and to bring some relative degree of quantification to what were formally seen simply as “intangibles.”  Green Markets are still developing and have yet to reach a level of standardization.  Nonetheless, there is a relative maturity within them to allow for the comparison of both the short-term and long-term benefits of infrastructure investments within this newly evolving field.  The introduction of green financial metrics enables investors to develop environmentally innovative and cost-effective solutions that may not have been pursued in the past.
  The development of credit markets has spurred a variety of green initiatives.  Even in areas without compliance-based markets, the voluntary carbon market prices have remained relatively robust and provided necessary funding for green development. The global carbon market alone is expected to reach a trillion dollars within the next ten years, producing a healthy demand for carbon reductions and offset projects.  Renewable Energy Credit markets have likewise provided significant revenue for infrastructure development and improvements.   
  The transportation sector has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, despite this, the sector as a whole has not been a significant player within the offset credit markets.  By and large, sustainability efforts within the transportation arena have focused on increasing fuel efficiency, reducing vehicle miles traveled and use of alternative fuels.  Less emphasis has been placed on modifying how the transportation system works in an effort to reduce carbon.  Even less attention has been paid to then monetizing those reductions on the carbon market.  
  There are several conventional transportation improvement projects that would result in carbon reductions.  An individual project would not likely generate significant revenue on the carbon credit market.  However, the markets allow for programmatic approaches, such that individual projects can be bundled into a larger package.  This allows for a greater return on investment for the transportation entity and, depending on the scale, the revenue generated by the offset project could be sufficient to provide an alternative funding source for future infrastructure improvements.  Currently, there is no widely-adopted methodology that would allow these reductions to be brought to market.  Kleinfelder Groups, Inc. is working closely with public and private entities to develop this methodology.  
  The water market is beginning to take shape as the carbon market did, with the development of water footprinting and water quality credit systems. Given their extensive reach, transportation corridors can significantly impact the regional hydrology and water quality.  As water becomes a more limited resource, public and private entities will be expected to develop innovative solutions that will ensure adequate supplies.  How these challenges are met will change as the water markets develop.  As with carbon, the solutions will likely be derived from a combination of financial, regulatory and risk avoidance measures – all of which will have a founding in the Green Markets. 
   
   
   

 
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