Thinking Politics on Congestion Pricing

Congestion pricing is often thought of as the single best way to reduce the use of automobilies and create better incentives for mass transit and other means of transport. However last night at a transportation forum hosted by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Councilmember Dan Garodnick it seemed that the debate over congestion pricing was fairly done in Manhattan. BP Stringer called it an "applause line" in Manhattan. But he added that it was something that was very much feared and opposed in the outer boroughs, particularly by powerful interests in Brooklyn and Queens.

And so the stalemate over congestion pricing continues and even if Bloomberg were to vigorously fight for it, he might find his efforts go down in flames much like his West Side Stadium effort. This leaves the balance of the debate to the outerboroughs. What's their plan to reduce traffic congestion? or more to the point, What would they need as a sweetener to make congestion pricing worthwhile?

And that's exactly where the debate will start to shift over the next few months. A consensus in Manhattan, even with strong Mayoral support can not carry the day politically. Manhattan only represents 1.5 million residents versus the outerboroughs of 6.5 million. Then that eventually the state legislature might have to approve the plan, which would include representatives from Long Island, Westchester and other surrounding suburbs that would most likely oppose this strongly as another commuter tax.

Here's an outline of a possible compromise that could attempt to balance the various interest groups within NYC and present a unified front to the state and suburban leaders.

  1. Money Collected through Congestion Pricing Dedicated to Outerborough Mass Transit Service Improvements During Off Peak Hours. In particular increasing train, bus, ferry service and extending BRT rapidly. This is a good sweetener if it can be guaranteed by the MTA to dedicate money to this effort. Manhattanites just want the incentive system changed, they would be willing to let the money go to ther outer boroughs, especially if it helped encourage carpooling, mass transit and other non-auto forms of transportation.

  2. Only Congestion Price the Central Business District's (CBD) streets, not the Bridges & Highways. For traffic flowing through the CBD, from Brooklyn to New Jersey, it makes sense to encourage them to use the highways in place instead of the streets. You don't want people to feel trapped by a congestion charge, but you need to channel them through

  3. Reduce Verrazano and George Washington Tolls leaving the city during rush hour, especially for trucks. Currently there is a perverse incentive to drive over the East River Bridges and then out through one of the trans-hudson tunnels instead of taking expressways to bridges that are underutilized outside the CBD.

  4. City Development, Investment and Rezoning of Alternative Downtown areas of the outerborough that could become new centers of commerce, jobs, transportation. This would create more balance to the city's economic life and shorten commutes for workers who could live closer to work instead of always commuting into Manhattan.

I'm very open to other ideas, but I think the time for blind opposition is over. The outerborough leaders on the fence or outright opposed to congestion pricing will have to put forth their own transportation and congestion relief ideas.

Or the city will sink under the weight of it's own traffic congestion and lose it's place as a center of global commerce. The rebuilding of the World Trade Center alone is expected to generate over 300k truck trips into lower Manhattan.

Streetsblog also posted about congestion pricing today as well:

Traffic congestion slows you down when you're trying to get somewhere. It slows down the delivery of essentially goods throughout the city and slows the movement of people -- the city's most valuable economic input -- by clogging the roads that could be moving them along much more quickly with free flowing buses, cabs and bicycles. Traffic congestion gets in the way of emergency vehicles, no doubt contributing to the finding that heart attacks are more likely to be fatal in New York City than anywhere else in the nation. The fact that congestion pricing would lead to less air and noise pollution while improving the public realm is just a happy coincidence. But it is one that should make every New Yorker support congestion pricing, whether you're in favor of making New York into an efficient platform for commerce or you are concerned about a rise in sea levels or you simply want to live in a more pleasant, breathable city.

We look forward to hearing proactive solution ideas by future mayoral candidates from the outerboroughs like Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn Borough President), Anthony Weiner (US Congress, Queens) and Adolfo Carrión, Jr (Bronx Borough President).

They may want to read this statement from Former Bronx Borough President Ferando Ferrer:

Ferrer does support congestion pricing. In a questionnaire for the New York League of Conservation voters, he wrote; "I do favor a congestion pricing policy, but one that is part of a larger framework; a framework which incorporates an expanded freight rail system, an efficient subway system, and an expanded ferry system."

There should be a larger framework and that needs to be articulated by the outerboroughs now. What will it take? What are major transportation issues and how can congestion pricing be part of the solution rather than a simple throw-away line in a campaign. It may be that Congestion Pricing is the only way to fund their desire for increased mass service for the majority of residents.

London experience.

- You need a dictatorial mayor with a lot of power-- Red Ken has jurisdiction over most of London's transport.

Don't ask people what they think before you install the system-- Edinburgh made that mistake and they decisively rejected the system in a referendum.  The people who will be hurt will vote down the people who might benefit.

How you implement is as important as what you implement.  At another point I might post a bit on this, but its basically about managing expectations.

  • The revenues from the system were a lot less than planned-- there won't be a lot of surplus cash to subsidise public transport.

  • traffic speeds have risen about 20%.  Traffic is about 10-15% lower, but the effect is much less than that at Rush hours and correspondingly greater 9.30-4.30.

  • Red Ken also heavily invested in public buses before the system started-- more buses and new routes.  This has worked: the only known intra-model passenger shift from cars to buses, by about 4%.  That has never been achieved before in the history of public transport.  (the Tube/subway system is over capacity and has little meaningful that can be done to improve it over the short term).  However the bus subsidies from Central Government are now running out, leaving a yawning gap on the operating deficit.

You also see quite a few more cyclists about. (there was a story this was as a result of the 7/7/05 bombings, but that has been discounted-- I think the very warm weather and the shortage of rain we have been having has had a much greater impact- -we are officially on drought warning)

- the leading department store (John Lewis on Oxford Street) says custom is down 8% due to the tariff.  I find it hard to believe that there were all these eager shoppers who shopped at John Lewis, by car between 7am and 7pm, Monday to Friday, but there you have it.  If I go into John Lewis on weekdays, I see people who have popped in from work.

It's not good for downtown retailers is their consensus (it's hard to know who is right) and the effect has worsened the retail trading problems in central London (shops moving to the suburban malls, general deterioration of shopping in London).

  • we've just doubled the tariff (to try to increase revenues) to £10 per day = $18.  There is also a plan to increase the coverage zone westwards into Chelsea (the equivalent of embracing the Upper East and West Side).  This is a very bad idea, as it will create more 'free' users who don't have to pay the tariff (because they live in the charging zone) and so increase congestion.

  • the largest office complex, Canary Wharf, (think Battery Park City or La Defence in Paris), is outside the congestion charge zone

  • traffic has increased on the boundary roads, but except at peak hours it isn't impossibly worse

  • it was widely predicted the world would end, or that London would be saved.  Neither has happened.  The big news is the buses are better and there seem to be more cyclists

  • electric cars (and hybrids) enter the zone for free.  This has led to a miniboom in all electric cars, which being smaller, quieter and lighter, is a good think all round
that's intra-modal not intra-model of course.  Duhh.
Don't ask people what they think before you install the system-- Edinburgh made that mistake and they decisively rejected the system in a referendum.  The people who will be hurt will vote down the people who might benefit.

It looks like the congestion charge in Stockholm (52% voted for it; mostly down town residents) will suffer the same fate.
Any idea on what congestion pricing will cost?

I do agree that the congestion pricing policy is a good idea to have, however, being a student myself, along with my roomates, i am always struggling to pay my school bills as well as pay for food / and apartment fees.  On top of that gas is a killer as well, but i need to get to school, and so i fear that if it is a major success, new transporation issues will arise.  

I go to school 5 days a week, and such congestion prices do add up.  On top of that, there is a parking fee, and what not =/

Fortunately, i take local roads to get to school ^-^
but i fear for some who drive from Riverside to LA to get to school [30-40 Mi. Drive]

On the plus side, if this really does help congestion, the gas you are using while waiting in traffic i guess is the same as paying for a small congestion fee, if small is the correct word to use here.

The numbers usually floated are about $5-10 to make a dent in the number of cars. Most trips during rush hours within NYC are less than 10 miles, have a mass transit time competitive alternative and get stuck in traffic. A lot of gas is wasted in stalled or slow traffic.

The idea is less traffic, more mass transit service = Faster commutes for everyone.

I think before they institute congestion charging, the city needs to improve subway service, and start building a normal surface transport system. The problems with the subway are that it's slow and crowded. The crowding problem can to some extent be addressed by buying more trains and not throwing out the old ones, and the MTA is already expanding its fleet, though there are also issues of yard capacity and so on. The speed of the subway is also a problem: most of the time trains get up to 35 mph at best. This is not fast, this is about what it was like way back in 1904 when the system opened. If the trains run faster, as they do in every other city in the US, then the subway has even more of a time advantage, and gets a bit more capacity out of the trains too. All this was supposed to have come out of the CBTC project, but that seems to have fallen through pretty thoroughly.
The other way to add capacity is by getting people off the subway and onto surface transit lines. But the reason that so many people take the slow local train with its 12.5 mph average speed is that the bus system is even worse, with average speeds in the 3-7 mph range for the most part. I think the eventual solution is to build streetcar lines. They're fast and electric, and can have quite a high capacity since you can couple them together in trains, limited only by the length of Manhattan's blocks. The trains can run on streets in mixed traffic where traffic is not too bad, but can also run in dedicated lanes or on entirely separate rights of way.
There's also a need for more capacity going in to the city. From Long Island, there is the LIRR line to Grand Central under construction. From New Jersey, there is the eventual new Hudson tunnel, but I think a much quicker fix can be had there by simply extending the 7 train through the Lincoln Tunnel some distance to New Jersey. This reduces the car-carrying capacity of the tunnel, at the same time as increasing the person-carrying capacity significantly. It also solves the problem of the at-capacity bus lane, since most of the bus routes coming from New Jersey can instead end at a subway station on the Jersey side. Only once there is enough capacity to accommodate people shifting from cars to trains and buses should congestion charging be instituted. I would suggest charging simply for crossing into manhattan, since there are already tollbooths there, and making the charge variable based on time of day, setting it in such a way as to keep delays going into the bridges and tunnels at a reasonable level.
The London solution, such as it was, was to increase the buses-- frequency and also to add some routes.  Also we added new 'double length' buses (ie with a bend in the middle) which are a horror from a traffic point of view.

Our Tube system is already at capacity pretty much, and was privatised (a ludicrous central government idea) which has made reforms all the more difficult.

What does seem to happen with the Congestion Charge is that a certain fraction of the traffic just 'goes away'.  It doesn't shift onto buses, nor does it appear on roads outside the charging zone.  People just don't make those car journeys. a proposal for a 42nd street street car.

I suspect the labour unions issues with the New York subway would need to be fixed as well, to meaningfully increase the thruput without a big expansion of cost.

Nope. All they have to do is increase the acceleration of the trains. If a train has 50% faster average speed, then it completes its run in only two thirds the time. So the same train and train crew can complete 50% more runs in the same time, and thus carry 50% more passengers for the same cost.
The real problem has been that the MTA hasn't been willing to either adjust the signal system to allow faster speeds, or install a normal ATC system of the kind that, say, the LIRR has. Instead what they had was CBTC, which is all fancy and computer controlled and works by radio, and they're going to put it in service on the L train sometime in Spring 2005. Which came and went with no CBTC. And the MTA just doesn't seem to realize that running trains faster is possible, or that it is useful and important both for increased productivity and making the system a more attractive option. Oh, and if you want to see trains that go fast, just take a trip to Philadelphia. Ride the Broad Street Subway, especially the express, and the Market-Frankford El, and if you have time, PATCO and the Norristown line are also worthwhile. The subway and PATCO has a speed limit of 70, and the El gets up to 40mph between 11th and 13th street station. For comparison, the typical NYC subway express train on level track can get up to 35-40 mph depending on the train and how long it has to accelerate, and local trains can hit 30 right before starting to brake coming into a station.
Our rails go out of alignment in hot weather, so there are speed restrictions across both the rail and Tube networks-- down to 15mph I think.

The Jubilee Line extension was supposed to be on a 'moving block' signalling system, rather than the 'fixed block' that the Victorians invented.  The software never worked properly.

Based on the British experience, the safety cost of one bad accident, in terms of what the rest of the network is forced to spend, is so large that I can understand why operators are cautious about increasing speeds.

The tube is in really terrible condition, which is why it has all those speed restrictions and so on. Reliability on the Tube is terrible, worse than the NYC subway even, which is surprising. There are ways to deal with heat expansion of rails, for example expansion joints which are used successfully on everything from Japan's Shinkansen to Philadelphia's Market-Frankford El. And it seems that the people in charge don't really want to invest serious money in fixing the basic infrastructure. Instead they tend to invest in whiz-bang technologies like moving block (the same thing that was installed and failed to work on the L train). Incidentally, the guy in charge of that particular project in NYC now works as a consultant for the company that sells that technology. Oh, and the technology had problems not with the software but the fact that it depended on radio, and specifically timing of radio signals, in tunnels. It's just physically nearly impossible to do that reliably.
Oh, and please don't bring out that "technology that the Victorians invented", because after all, most transportation uses "wheels" which were invented by cavemen.
Here in Vancouver, a fully automatic, grade-separated light rail system called Skytrain has been in operation since 1985. It uses a moving block system that uses wires instead of radio signals. During rush hour, trains run with a frequency of 1 train every 104 seconds on a portion of track where two lines are combined. The system carries over 200,000 passengers on a typical week day. The top speed is 80 km/h (50 mph) and it's very reliable. Average speed including stops is about 45 km/h (28 mph).

Oh yes, it did cost a lot of money to build, but the operating costs are low.

The "Skytrain" system is basically the same technology and very similar construction to the JFK Airtrain, though the Skytrain I think has just regular platforms instead of enclosed ones with doors. Incidentally, the East Side IRT used to run 35 trains per hour, with plain old three-aspect fixed block signals with mechanical trans stops and no automation, which is roughly the same traffic density as the Vancouver system, and in fact manual operation is necessary for any higher traffic densities, because automation still is not very good at stopping trains precisely, quickly, and under a variety of conditions. Oh, and while people may call the Skytrain "light rail", it really is a proper rapid transit system, belonging to some intermediate class between light rail (interurbans) and full heavy rail metros, and it has more in common technically with the latter than the former.
This initial Skytrain line was built in part because Vancouver was hosting the 1986 tranportation expo. There was enormous opposition to the initial line and several later extensions. Many believed that very few would dare riding a system that didn't have drivers. This concern was proven unfounded soon after it opened. There was also a lot of talk about crime, destruction of neighborhoods, etc. After many battles, the system was extended 3 times, the latest extension was completed in 2001.

The platforms are open, so you can easily fall onto the tracks. This happens on occasion and has led to several deaths. There are track intrusion system at station that are supposed to stop an approaching train, but I'm sure how well they work. The older stations use touch pads, while the newer ones use laser beams.

There has never been any collisions between trains, except some minor fender benders in the yard where the trains sometime run on manual.

The weird thing about riding an automated rail car is the consistent ride. The train stops a precicely the same spot at a particular station, and speeds up and slows down at exactly the same spot on the track everytime you ride it.

The system is somewhat like a sideways elevator. The train won't move if someone is jammed in a door. Passengers often take gross advantage this safety system by forcing the doors open to stop a train that is just about move. This is why the design frequency of 1 train every 90 seconds has not been sustained in practice.

I think that it's very difficult to design a system that is both frequent and fast. You can increase the frequency by simply going slower, but this doesn't sound a good thing.

Despite its many detractors, I would judge the Vancouver Skytrain system a resounding success. It has created several attractive, high density neighborhoods that would otherwise not exist.

Another automated rail system is currently being build that will connect downtown to the airport and a southern suburb. The control system will use moving blocks, but the vehicles won't be powered by linear induction motors like Skytrain. It's supposed to be ready by the time we host the 2010 winter olympics.

The most frequent subway service I know in the world, in Moscow, runs 39 trains per hour per direction, for a headway of 92 seconds. The top speed there is also 80 km/h, and the average line speed is about 40 km/h, so that's comparable to Vancouver. The signal system is a fixed block system with automatic speed control via coded track circuits, with wayside block signals with train stops as a backup. Trains are usually 7 or 8 cars, with some lines running 6 car trains. The train cars themselves are about as narrow as the IRT cars, but slightly longer (62 feet). The Moscow subway system of 10 lines carries around 9-10 million riders daily, with the busiest line getting somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million of that. The single busiest station (which happens to be the only cross platform subway-railroad transfer in Russia) has a daily ridership of about 250,000.
I agree with the preference for 'fancy pants' solutions over solid basic rail engineering.

The problem is the middle management layers have been decimated by redundancy, early retirement and 'reorganisation'.  The people at the top don't know the technology, don't know what works.  And they are selling to politicians who want fancy solutions.

Also there is a fundamental disrespect of technological people and technical solutions: nerds, boffins, dweebs, trainspotters... pick your epithet.  This is a very British thing, but I've seen it in Canada, too.

I've seen this in the power generation sector.  Virtually any heavy industry, the 80s and 90s devastated the human capital-- no one young and bright went into them.

Countries like France still have that technical capability, one of the reasons the French nuclear system performed so much better than the British.

London says £10 ($18) drops traffic by 15% or so.

But London is far and away the richest city in the UK, and parking was already £25 per day ($45 or so).  The Central Zone is about 3 miles on a side and covers the most expensive real estate in Europe-- think of it as a mini mid town Manhattan.

Toronto has the 407:

$16c a km or about $25c/mile for a passenger car travelling in peak hours.

407 is the main E to W highway, there is a (non toll) highway 10 miles further south (the 401 aka the macdonald cartier freeway 20 lanes wide, including feeders) which is jammed much of the time.  401 is reckoned to be busier than the Santa Monica Freeway

Another (small) part of this is that there are some places in the other boroughs that have congestion problems that might be alleviated by congestion pricing, if at a lower rate or something.  If it's not all about Manhattan but about "congestion hotspots" throughout the city, some opposition might be broken up a bit.  Drivers who come in from Long Island, Connecticut, etc., need to drive through the outer boroughs before getting to Manhattan.
I have several real problems with the London experiment. For example, its cost and the very limited area of application.

Please take a look at my alternative approach - a more decentralised approach.

Thank you.

Aah, it's the Orwell-1984 type - with everybody acting as 'big brother' (shudder ...)
You clearly either didn't read it or, if you read it, did not understand it.

I have similar problems with another proposal - see Hiv Prevention

People tend to think they understand it - because they are familiar with something else and they think this is the same.

The mind plays strange tricks!

We already live in that society in the UK.  The most highly CCTV'd society in the world (other than Singapore, apparently).  Very helpful when they were tracking the movements of the 7/7/05 bombers (although not in preventing the catastrophe).  In fact, as 'early movers' we have certain distinct disadvantages: our cameras are old, with low resolution.

There is a Bruce Cockburn song, whose line goes:

'People in the street say security comes first/
But the Trouble with Normal is it always gets worse'

Although written in the 80s, it aptly captures the mood.  

The prospect of a huge tax on driving ought to frighten residents of outer parts of the outer boroughs. Subway service is generally somewhat usable in downtown Brooklyn, in Manhattan, and in a few other places. But the subway doesn't go everywhere - indeed it doesn't really offer crosstown travel even in Manhattan. In addition, some lines are already grossly overcrowded, and off-peak service in outer areas that have it at all can be fairly awful. And the Staten Island Railway, since it stopped collecting fares except at the ferry, has utterly lost control over security, and is simply terrifying - the exclusive domain of gang-bangers - except at the very height of the rush hour.

Bus service, on the other hand, is so slow, awful and unreliable everywhere that it's useless as a means of getting anywhere in a reasonable amount of time. After all, I can remember outwalking a Broadway bus from Astor Place to Battery Park one time when the subway was not operating. And don't bother to even mention crosstown busses, which move at maybe 1 mph, if you call that motion. In a way it's even worse in outer areas, where buses lumber along at a leisurely pace in packs of five at random 90-minute intervals. That owes something to traffic congestion in crowded areas and rush hours, but it also owes to a poor attitude of indiscipline on the part many bus drivers, which is something that could not be easily fixed even if congestion disappeared, which it has not even with the huge charge in London.

All told, outer borough residents will see this as serving Manhattan but skinning them, since they will expect free-spending tax-hungry city councillors to expand and expand the charging zone in order to finance yet more of their pet projects. After all, there probably isn't enough tea in all of China to pay for transit service good enough to sell this thing on its actual merits outside of Manhattan and perhaps downtown Brooklyn. Not under the best of circumstances. And certainly not with the massive corruption that has made the Second Avenue Subway a pipe dream for 60 years - I'll believe that one when I see it, not when yet more "studies" are made next year. And certainly not with the relevant unions' attitude of arrogant shiftlessness, which, combined with the utterly worthless and incompetent MTA management, makes "transit service" too often something of an oxymoron.

You've hit some nails on the head:

  • buses work if there are bus only lanes and special arrangements for buses.  We did find the North to South Manhattan buses pretty useful, but not so much the East to West (crosstown) oddly.

  • I don't know what causes the 'bus pack' phenomenon.  The London joke is that 'buses hunt in packs'.  I think there is a lack of local control and autonomy, what should happen is a local inspector should stop one of the pack of say, 3, take the people onto the other two, and hold that bus for 5 minutes.  I don't know why this isn't done.  I agree bus drivers here at any case have become of much lower quality (don't seem to speak English, rude and aggressive to passengers, drive too aggressively: we had one crash his bus into a shopping mall wall here about a year ago)

  • interesting what you say about the Staten Island railway service.  There are trains in South London (mainline rail) that are like that, and some of the extremes of the Tube network, especially at night.  When they go up the carriages stealing wallets and bags, it is called 'steaming'.  The difficulty is unless you have cops, no one is going to challenge them.

  • I noticed about the absence of radial links on the network, eg Queens to Brooklyn.  I think some of the suburbs fought mass transit, because it means poorer people can move in?

From all I have heard, you have the same problems with getting anything built, honestly and on time, in NYC that we have in London.

Jane Jacobs spotted this.  When you close a road, a percentage of the traffic just 'goes away'.  In the end, it's a myth that we can accomodate all the demand there is: by public or private transport.  Cities are for living in, not just getting in and out of.

What is it about New Yorkers and SUVs though?  I can't think of a worse place in America for an SUV, (parking, traffic etc.), yet your streets are crawling with them.

All of the above said, and suburban howling notwithstanding, I expect the traffic in midtown Manhattan will eventually get so bad that something will be done.  But you have to have a crisis.

The thing is, traffic is to an extent self-limiting. That is, once traffic gets bad enough, people will simply choose not to make an extra trip through it, and demand falls off, to reach an equilibrium. The problem is, this equilibrium involves rather more cars than I want in my city and on my street. That's why we need congestion charging. It's a move the drivers will never support, because anyone who is driving is by definition willing to put up with the traffic.
   Regarding #3, reduce tolls on trucks leaving on GWB; no tolls are collected when leaving.
Thanks - I haven't driven over it in quite some time. Perhaps we need more tolls leaving the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels then to emphasize using the GWB.

But I have been over the Verrazano going to Staten Island in the morning and it is a large and relatively underutilized roadway leaving Brooklyn. Cars and trucks face a stiff toll entering Staten Island and as a result, often take the Manhattan or Williamsburg bridges across midtown to the NJ tunnels.

This article offers some intriguing alternitives to a straight congestion tax.
Which will, in and of themselves, not be enough.

The main problem with a tax, though, is it is seen as unfair, favouring wealthy over poor.  And those it hits will scream louder than those who benefit.  And as incomes rise, you have to keep raising the tax (income effect outweighs price effect).

I don't see congestion taxes as being widely implemented because of the political risks.

If we look at LA or other cities that are car-based, we can see that traffic will get worse, and people will put up with it (or businesses and people move further out).

There is no road outlook other than 'busy' ;-).

As we all know, all you have to do is wait a couple more years and Peak Oil fuel prices and shortages will eliminate the congestion (And maybe a lot of the people causing it?)
Strange to see a Peak Oil group talking and trying  to plan for long term motor vehicle use at the same or greater levels than we have today.
I don't think Peak Oil is imminent.  2020 maybe, not 2006.  That's probably a minority view around here.  Even so, it behooves us to start making preparations, even if the date is 2040.

I also think as the oil price rises substitutes will be found.  The world economy will survive $200/bl oil, and there are substitutes (the key is how fast that happens, because if it happens suddenly, there will be massive 'demand destruction' aka a horrible recession).

However I don't think we have even 20 years to act on Global Warming.  One geophysicist I knows think we have minus 10 years (ie it's too late) but I would say that from the most recent scientific evidence, 450ppm CO2 is a level that still has at least a 20% chance of a total global meltdown (the permafrost melts and the methane is released very quickly: when this happened in the Permian era, 90% of the world's animal life went extinct).  There are a number of other scary scenarios which are less dramatic than that but would make survival of civilisation, if not the human race, very unlikely.

450ppm is a level we will reach in just about 40 years, on current trends, from 380ppm now.  If recent acceleration continues, we might reach it a lot sooner.

We're in that damnable box which is faced by all humans, but especially those with terminal illnesses.  Plan like you're going to make it, because you just might.