Transportation Day (Catriona Jenkins, Kari Miller and Norman Wirzba)
Today is Transportation Day here at COP26. The importance of this theme cannot be emphasized enough; as much as 30% of greenhouse gases are produced by the transportation sector. Most people live within and depend upon a global economy in which products travel great distances by trucks, trains, ships, and airplanes to get to consumers. Very little that we buy is locally sourced or produced. This is why it is so important to build transportation networks that are good for the earth and good for communities.
The highlight of the day was to attend a discussion with Katharine Hayhoe and Pete Buttigieg. They began by speaking about how the infrastructure bill recently passed by the US Congress isn’t only good for the planet but good for families and communities at the same time. Clean energy vehicles reduce the pollution that is responsible for 9 million premature deaths. Improved neighborhood design with walkways, bike lanes, and public transport increases the quality of life people enjoy since they can exercise outdoors and have more opportunities for face to face contact. Why sit in a traffic jam when you can be listening to music, reading a book, or enjoying a conversation? Moreover, a just and clean transportation infrastructure can improve the quality of life for all people, especially those communities that have been consigned to live in toxic neighborhoods or in areas without green space. So much of our design of cities and farms has been made dependent on the hyper-mobility that is currently fueled by oil and gas. Clean fuels that drive our cars, buses, trains, ships, and airplanes will increase the quality of life of everyone, while also decreasing the amount of carbon we put into our atmosphere. If we think more carefully about transportation, we might even realize that our much-treasured mobility hasn’t been good for us or the earth.
Both Katharine and Pete were clear that their faith commitments are vital to the work they do in transportation and energy sectors. God commands us to look after those who are on the margins, who are oppressed, and who are the most vulnerable. We cannot do what God asks if we do not also look after and care for the neighbors we are called to love.