Combating Crises with Credible Climate Leadership

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Latest MTI perspective evaluates the impact of two federal climate action plans
September 24, 2021
San José, CA

Although the U.S. has rejoined the international fight against climate change, and the Biden Administration appointed climate experts to positions throughout the executive branch of the government, the political landscape for enacting meaningful climate policy remains difficult to navigate with persistent partisan divide. As a result, keeping the President’s promise to deliver on climate action and finding common ground to get things done has proved challenging. The latest perspective from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), Ambitious Action Plan Tackling Climate Change or Finding Common Ground?, explores the climate action potentials of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act compared to President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP).

The perspective examines the differing approaches and proposed financial investments in the two plans. The AJP aspired to “unify” and “mobilize” the nation to address climate change and build infrastructure fit for the 21st century. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, meanwhile, emphasizes economic growth and competitiveness and building a sustainable, resilient, and just economy.

Three areas of note between the plans include that:

  • Both plans would invest significantly in infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and airports, ports, and waterways.
  • However, the bipartisan plan’s investment in vehicle electrification, a key step to combating climate change, is only a fraction of that in the AJP ($15 billion in the bipartisan plan vs $174 billion in the AJP).
  • Significantly, the AJP proposed a total of $45 billion to redress historic inequities and reconnecting communities that have been divided by historic transportation investments whereas the bipartisan plan proposes only $1 billion.

The perspective also dives into how new U.S. targets stack up against commitments made by other advanced economies will help us gauge where the U.S is likely headed in terms of tackling the climate crisis and further climate action opportunities that can help the United States return to genuine climate leadership at a global stage.

“Credible climate leadership involves acknowledging and acting on climate inequity­—manifested in a variety of forms, such as lack of access to mobility, higher exposure to climate impacts, and limited adaptive capacity. Global climate leaders have a similar responsibility towards communities set to be hard hit by climate impacts and with meager resources to adapt,” states the perspective’s author, Dr. Serena Alexander.

Whichever plan is implemented must lift up all Americans by investing in American infrastructure, in its people, and in the global fight against the ongoing climate crisis.


At the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University (SJSU) our mission is to increase mobility for all by improving the safety, efficiency, accessibility, and convenience of our nations’ transportation system. Through research, education, workforce development and technology transfer, we help create a connected world. Founded in 1991, MTI is funded through the US Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security, the California Department of Transportation, and public and private grants, including those made available by the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017 (SB1). MTI is affiliated with SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business.

Dr. Serena E. Alexander is an MTI Research Associate and Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at SJSU. Her primary research interests involve environmental planning, climate action, land-use and transportation planning, community economic development, and sustainable urbanism. Dr. Alexander has worked with many multidisciplinary teams and aims at bridging the gap between technical knowledge, policy decisions, and community values.


Media Contact:

Irma Garcia,

MTI Communications and Operations Manager

O: 408-924-7560



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