Feb 12, 2019

High-speed rail and the Green New Deal

Ben Geman, author of Generate
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Reproduced from IEA, "The Future of Rail"; Chart: Axios Visuals

One piece of the big climate-friendly spending envisioned in the wide-ranging Green New Deal resolution is a buildout of high-speed rail.

Between the lines: Coincidentally, an International Energy Agency report on rail transport released days earlier lays out how far the U.S. has to go.

  • The chart above shows how North America has yet to be part of the global expansion in high-speed rail, which IEA defines as trains with top speeds above roughly 155 mph.

Why it matters: The technology can cut carbon emissions by displacing some aviation and other vehicle trips, though the scope of the benefits depends on several variables.

  • "If optimal conditions are met, a new high-speed rail line can produce almost immediate net CO2 benefits by reducing air and car journeys," the report notes.

What's next: There are some projects planned in the U.S., including a major California high-speed line, with the first phase from San Jose to Bakersfield targeted for opening in the mid-2020s.

  • But in the IEA's "base" scenario, North America will have just 3% of the world's high-speed rail tracks in 2050.

Go deeper: The staggering scale of China's Belt and Road initiative

Go deeper

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 53 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.