Inside Look: How to get California back on track to meet its climate goals

The California Air Resources Board recently reported that although the state has already met its 2020 goals, California is not on track to meet the 2030 climate goals. Emissions from the transportation sector is increasing despite successful advances in fuel efficiency and vehicle electrification. Why? Because the amount of driving is increasing. With the high cost of housing near jobs and few other options than to drive, Californians are being forced to spend more time in their cars.

Due to the landmark Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375, Steinberg, 2008), every metropolitan region in the state has a plan to reduce emissions by reducing the need to drive. However, housing cost burdens have increased in every region and investment in sustainable transportation options remains limited. For example, the Air Resources Board’s Report (coined the SB 150 Report after the legislation that required it) found that the amount of funding planned for transit, walking, and biking in Southern California, the Bay Area, Sacramento, and San Diego has hardly changed. What's more, the most vulnerable among us are getting hit the hardest: “The way we grow also imposes and often reinforces long-standing racial and economic injustices by placing a disproportionate burden on low-income residents, who end up paying the highest proportion of their wages for housing and commuting.” (California Air Resources Board, 2018 Progress Report: California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act)

The SB 150 Report also makes recommendations in alignment with what the ClimatePlan network has been promoting for more than 10 years: “Significant changes to how communities and transportation systems are planned, funded, and built.” Californians deserve convenient buses, safe sidewalks, housing options that meet their budget, and accessible green spaces. The benefits of building for people rather than cars go beyond the climate: the results will be less time spent in traffic, healthier air, safer streets, and broader access to good jobs.

Given the significance of the SB 150 Report, ClimatePlan hosted a special presentation to summarize the report and legislative responses to it. Watch it here:

The webinar includes:

  • Carey Knecht, Air Pollution Specialist at the Air Resources Board, summarizing the SB 150 Report’s findings and recommendations (starting around minutes 5:36).
  • Tina Andolina, Senator Allen’s Legislative Director, presenting Senator Allen’s SB 526, a direct response to the 150 Report (starting around minute 27:13).

There are many administrative and legislative responses to the SB 150 Report. As Senator Allen authored SB 150 (2017), we invited his staff to present on his response to the report. There are four main components to SB 526:

- Create an interagency working group to develop and implement a State Mobility Action Plan (MAP) for Healthy Communities to ensure the state’s environmental, equity, climate, housing and health goals are being met. This MAP for Healthy Communities will build off of the existing efforts of state agencies to ensure a comprehensive, actionable plan for reducing transportation emissions from land use and transportation.

- Improve the data collection process to strengthen CARB’s data-driven evaluation of regional plans and regions’ progress on reducing emission

- Strengthen the implementation of regional plans to reduce emissions by identifying short and long term action items and monitoring progress.

- Better align the state’s transportation funding with the state’s climate and equity goals in regions not on track to meet their emissions reductions targets.

We look forward to working with our partners, regional and local governments, state agencies, and the Legislature to get California back on track.

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