Press Release: New ARB Report Finds California Regions are Falling Short on Climate Goals, as Pollution from Driving Increases

California’s carbon emissions from transportation are on the rise. A report released today by California's Air Resources Board finds that regional efforts to reduce those emissions are not on track.


Sacramento—Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a new report finding that California regions are not on track to meet either their 2020 or 2035 climate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional action from every level of government is required, including more investment in sustainable transportation and affordable homes near jobs and transit. The report can be downloaded here.

Each metropolitan region in the state has a plan, required by law, to reduce emissions by reducing the need to drive. However, the report finds that regions are failing to deliver on their plans. Part of regions’ failure is due to challenges beyond their control, such as limited state funding and local land use decisions. But regions continue to invest in highways, which results in more driving, not less.

“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. “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.”

“The largest source of carbon emissions in the state is growing: transportation,” said Victoria Rome, California Legislative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Cleaner fuels and electric vehicles are crucial in slowing those emissions down but Californians also need options other than driving.”

The plans are in place

According to state law SB 375, passed in 2008, regions must have transportation and land use plans to reduce emissions by reducing driving. Since 2014, they’ve all — Southern California, Sacramento, the Bay Area, San Diego, and more — had plans on paper for building more homes near public transit, and investing in better bus and train service, sidewalks, and bike paths.

Top findings

Today’s report on those plans finds that regions have made progress in some areas, but not nearly enough to meet their goals:

1. Regions are not on track to meet their climate goals, not for 2020 or even for 2035.
2. Statewide, driving is increasing. The trend is going in the wrong direction — each of us is driving more, not less.
3. Not enough investment is going toward climate-friendly transportation — including walking, bicycling, and public transit — or affordable housing near jobs and transit.
4. Action is needed at every level of government — cities, counties, regions, and the state — to get on track.

“To reduce emissions, the most sustainable options need to be the most convenient,” said Ella Wise, State Policy Associate at ClimatePlan.

“To get cars off the road, California needs to make it easy and safe for people to get where they need to go by public transit, as well as biking, walking, and scooting. The benefits go beyond the climate: the results will be more healthy communities, safer streets, lower costs for families, and broader access to good jobs.”

Opportunity for state leadership

The state’s agencies on climate and transportation funding — the Air Resources Board and the California Transportation Commission — will meet and discuss the report in early December. 

“Now that California voters have affirmed their support for transportation investments in the election, it’s time to look forward,” said Joshua Stark, State Policy Director at TransForm.

“The Legislature and state agency leaders need to focus more of the state’s transportation dollars on meeting our climate goals.”



ClimatePlan is a network of dozens of California organizations committed to improving land-use and transportation planning in California to protect our health, our communities, our climate, and our environment. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @ClimatePlan.

TransForm promotes walkable communities with excellent transportation choices to connect people of all incomes to opportunity, keep California affordable, and help solve our climate crisis. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @TransForm_Alert.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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