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Electric Vehicles Alone Will Not Reduce Emissions to Meet California's Climate Goal

According to a new report by the California Air Resources Board, even if electric vehicle sales were to increase tenfold, it would not reduce emissions from transportation enough to meet a 2030 climate goal. A major reduction in driving is needed.
November 29, 2018, 11am PST | Irvin Dawid
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The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced in July that the state had achieved the steep carbon emissions reductions that were set in a landmark 2006 law – emissions had been reduced in 2016 to 1990 levels.  However, there was also ominous news in the release of the 2016 greenhouse gas inventory. For the second consectuive year, transportation emissions had increased, accounting for 41 percent of all emissions.

That law, Assembly Bill 32, expires in 2020, and its replacement, Senate Bill 32, sets the bar much higher: reduction of greenhouse gases 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

In order to meet that goal, "a major turnaround in the transportation sector" is required, according to a new report by CARB released Monday, reports Liam Dillon for the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 26.

Dramatically increasing the amount of electric vehicles on the road will not solve the problem, the report said. Even if new car sales of zero-emission vehicles increase nearly tenfold from today, the state would still need to reduce vehicle miles traveled per capita by 25% to meet the 2030 goal.

“California will not achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet mandates for 2030 and beyond without significant changes to how communities and transportation systems are planned, funded and built,” the report said.

The report, prepared for the legislature, is to discuss progress toward meeting the goals of the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375), viewed as a landmark smart growth bill at the time.  The law also "required regions across the state to plan for housing growth so that people could live closer to where they work or public transit and reduce their time on the state’s roadways," adds Dillon.

“If we are going to meet California’s bold climate goals, we must hold ourselves accountable,” said State Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica), who authored the law (SB 150) requiring the report, writes Ella Wise for ClimatePlan.

“To do that effectively we need to understand our progress through active monitoring and real-time data and be ready to make the changes needed to get us on target,” adds Allen.

The legislation requires the report to include a discussion of best practices and challenges faced by the state's 18 metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs} in meeting their respective transportation emission-reduction targets approved by CARB.

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Hat tip to Darrell Clarke.

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Published on Monday, November 26, 2018 in Los Angeles Times
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