Long Beach Post)
Brian AddisonDecember 1, 2018
Traffic on Ocean Blvd. in Downtown Long Beach. Animation by Brian Addison.
Despite its liberal reputation as a haven for progressive climate change legislation, a new report released this week by the California Air Resources Board shows the state will not meet its 2030 goals for reducing pollution.
“California—at the state, regional and local level—has not yet gone far enough in making the systemic and structural changes to how we build and invest in communities that are needed to meet state climate goals,” the executive summary read in part.
And while overall emissions have dropped to levels unseen before the ’90s, a situation lauded by politicians after we met our 2020 goals early, something else was not mentioned: Non-commercial vehicles accounted for 28 percent of all carbon emissions, by far the state’s single largest contributor.
History in context is key to understanding the scope of the problem at hand.
Those 2020 goals were launched at a time when legislators passed an aggressive suite of bills seeking to reduce carbon emissions. The 1990s produced scientifically backed data showing pollution was altering the climate and threatening the livability of the planet.
While much has been said about making cars cleaner and more efficient, very little has been said about why people drive so much or for such great distances on such a regular basis. With a severe housing decrease in the foreseeable future—particularly affordable housing in transit-rich areas—those displaced from urban centers have become much more likely to buy a vehicle to get to and from work.
This, in turn, has brought a second wave of aggressive legislation that focuses on creating housing near transit, what is called transit-oriented housing, in order to meet a new slew of climate change goals. The state has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. In addition, over the past decade, it created a first-of-its-kind law such as SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008.
And those lofty goals for 2030? You can pretty much book it that they will not be met the same way the 2020 goals were. Why? Because the 2020 goals mainly dealt with improvements to the electrical grid and commercial freight transit. The 2030 guidelines deal with the great white whale of California emissions: The private automobile.
The report makes one thing completely clear, and critical, about the state’s very survival: We have to drive less and our lack of progress or inability to curb our individual car driving to date has “put California at risk of not achieving the important public health, equity, economic, mobility, housing, and other benefits that [SB 375 is] expected to deliver.”