Climate Protection & Land Use: California Begins To Address The Connection

Land use is finally being addressed in California as an intrinsic part of the state's global warming reduction strategy, thanks to passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act and a recent lawsuit by the attorney general against a sprawling county.

"The need to rein in sprawl has not received much attention from Schwarzenegger, who has garnered international attention as he has talked about creating more efficient cars, boosting solar power, and developing new carbon-trading markets for industry. But experts, including the governor's own climate advisers, argue that changing how housing is developed is key to meeting the emissions reductions that AB32 (Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006) calls for.

Those changes, aimed at nothing less than altering how and where Californians live and encouraging a car-crazy state to drive less, may be the most profound -- and difficult -- challenge for the state's global warming fight."

"Speaking at a climate change conference in Santa Barbara in March, Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, chairwoman of the California Energy Commission Pfannenstiel declared that the state needed a cultural revolution when it came to land-use planning."

State Attorney General Jerry Brown recently said, "We can no longer pretend that carbon emissions don't exist," speaking of his lawsuit against the general plan of one of the state's fastest growing counties, San Bernardino. "This (general) plan won't be changed again until 2030, and to not have a word in it about climate change is ignoring a very real problem." {Editor's note: see related link for more on the lawsuit}.

"The lawsuit is one of at least seven around the state using the global warming threat to challenge building or planning proposals by developers and local governments"

"(The) lawsuits broach a topic that virtually every climate-change expert in California agrees on: Sprawl is contributing to global warming."

"We have to address land use to reach the AB32 targets," said Dan Skopec, undersecretary of the governor's Environmental Protection Agency.

"The problem is this: Low-density housing developments built far from where people work, and far from public transportation, increase everything from the energy use generated to bring water to outlying areas to the amount of miles people drive in their cars. Brown's lawsuit against San Bernardino... notes that the current population logs 28 million miles per day in vehicles.

The answer to this, many agree, is to change land development patterns to encourage more high-density housing near public transportation and employment centers to get people out of their cars."

Thanks to Bruce Riordan

Full Story: Sprawl clashes with warming in California

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