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Project Drawdown


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Civics, Mathematics

Resource Types

  • Article
  • Data

Regional Focus


Public Transit

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  • This article assesses public transportation utilization as a climate solution, reporting that replacing individual vehicle usage in urban areas with existing public transport methods will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • This report provides quantitative data and evidence to analyze the fuel savings, consumer cost savings, and carbon emission reduction related to public transportation use.
Teaching Tips


  • The article presents a topic that should be familiar to most students, especially those in urban environments.
  • The discussion of public transportation access may prove quite relevant, especially for students who cannot afford a car.
  • The article discusses the adoption of public transportation in different areas of the globe based on income and access.
  • This article is in a scientific paper format, which helps develop scientific literacy.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with greenhouse gas emissions from internal combustion engine cars.
  • Learners should be familiar with gigaton, the unit used to measure carbon emissions.
  • Teachers can use this interactive table of solutions to show students the rankings of solutions by scenario on the Drawdown website and make it easier to understand the relative impact of ocean shipping efficiency.


  • Before reading the article, have students discuss their experiences with public transportation and how they think it could be a climate change solution.
  • Be sure to explain the study's limitations, discussing that they did not account for the increased investment necessary in public transportation infrastructure and the assumption that those taking public transportation were previously driving combustion engine cars.
  • After reading this article, have students record their weekly transportation and use Google Maps to investigate whether there are any viable public transportation options to replace any driving they may do.
  • To investigate other climate solutions related to transportation, check out the articles on efficient trucks and hybrid cars.
Scientist Notes
This resource from Project Drawdown explains how adopting existing public transit infrastructure can reduce overall carbon emissions and save money for consumers. An interesting topic of discussion for more advanced students is how this model does not account for the additional infrastructure needs such adoption practices might entail. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-4 Evaluate or refine a technological solution that reduces impacts of human activities on natural systems.
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • HS-ETS1-3 Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.13.9-12 Evaluate public policies in terms of intended and unintended outcomes, and related consequences.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.9-12 Analyze how incentives influence choices that may result in policies with a range of costs and benefits for different groups.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.6 Analyze the author's purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, identifying important issues that remain unresolved.
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