Report: Transportation Emissions Sully California's Environmental Reputation
"Climate pollution from transportation hasn’t slowed since 2012 and now represents more than 40 percent of the state’s total, according to an annual assessment from Next 10, a San Francisco based non-profit," reports Eric Roston for Bloomberg News.
The figure represents a “worrisome trend” in a state that has achieved its overall 2020 climate change goal -- to push annual emissions below 1990 levels -- four years early.
“It has become clear that the transportation sector is heading in the wrong direction,” according to the report.
Roston writes that the report, called the 2018 California Green Innovation Index identifies the following reasons for the increase in transportation emissions:
- Californians have shown an increasing aversion to use public transit.
- Difficulty finding affordable housing near work means people have to drive more to their jobs.
- Lower gasoline prices are always greeted warmly -- but attract drivers to pick-ups and sport utility vehicles from more fuel-efficient smaller cars.
The good news in the report is the "long-term transformation in economic growth and energy use." Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) has been increasing while per capita emissions, notwithstanding what Roston calls the "anomalous transportation numbers," decrease. He ends his article on a grim note:
The slide in transportation emissions sullies the popular image of California as the clean-tech-savvy home to Tesla Inc. and 8 percent of the world’s on-road electric car fleet -- equal to the rest of the U.S.
Focus appears to be on tailpipe emissions, not vehicle miles traveled
Roston sees the state's failure to reduce transportation emissions as one reason it has to resist the Trump administration's attempt to revoke the Clean Air Act waiver that allows the state and 12 others to adopt stricter standards than apply for the rest of the nation due to its poor air quality.
The upswing in transportation emissions has not gone unnoticed by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), author of a landmark bill sitting on the governor's desk that requires the state's utilities to generate 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
"De León, who is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her seat in Washington, said the next Legislature will have to address tailpipe emissions," reports David R. Baker for the San Francisco Chronicle.
July 20, 2018New York Times climate reporter, Brad Plumer, comments on California's landmark accomplishment in reducing emissions, observing that with the low-hanging electricity generation fruit picked, reducing transportation emissions will prove formidable.
Hat tip InsideClimate News.