Tomorrow: ARB presents its plan to stay on target(s) to fight climate change

Tomorrow, California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) staff will present a plan for how it will update SB 375’s greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction targets. It’s been four years since the passage of SB 375 called on regions to meet GHG-reduction targets by improving their transportation and land use. This is the first opportunity for ARB to set new targets, to make sure regions are reducing greenhouse gases enough to fight climate change effectively. ARB is now proposing a process for the update.

Attend the hearing! More info here.

Earlier this month, ClimatePlan and 19 partner organizations submitted a formal letter to ARB about this; see our previous blog post summarizing our requests.

Now we have good news! The new ARB staff report reflects many of these requests, with a smart plan for moving ahead.

Here’s a quick summary of the proposed plan:

– For the four large MPOs (San Diego, Southern California, the Bay Area, and Sacramento): ARB will update these regions’ 2035 targets in time for their third Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCSes), starting in 2019. The update work will likely happen in 2015.

– For other regions, where targets were set with less information: ARB will review their 2035 targets, and any updates will apply to those regions’ second SCSes, so that needed fixes can kick in faster. This review will happen in 2016, so that the staff can finish reviewing San Joaquin Valley plans first. For the six smallest regions, ARB will update the 2020 targets at this time as well.

The staff report also touches on other key issues. Staff will make sure that modeling assumptions are appropriate and consistent — a crucial step. ARB has also increased the opportunity for public input during target-setting.

The staff report gets a lot right, and we applaud that.

Tomorrow, we want to see ARB commit to strong leadership in these areas:

Ensure targets are set that will actually meet the state’s climate goals in AB 32 and Executive Order S-3-05ARB should analyze not just what targets are achievable, but what targets are needed for the state to reach its larger goals. That should lead to a conversation about the additional resources needed to achieve those targets. Regions can adopt GHG-reduction targets for 2050 to make sure they will be on track.

Spread best practices between regions. Around the state, the first round of SB 375 planning inspired great innovation! Sharing what worked via a stakeholder-based process will accelerate the adoption of effective strategies.

Create models that account for the health, community, and conservation benefits of smart regional plans. Smart planning does a lot more than just reduce greenhouse gases. It also saves families money on gas; puts homes closer to jobs at a cost that workers can afford; protects valuable landscapes; reduces air pollution and chronic illness; and more! By helping regions forecast these benefits — ideally in a consistent way that could be added up across the state — ARB can help communicate to decision-makers the importance of this work, bolstering efforts to increase resources for sustainable communities.

 – Keep the focus of SB 375 on efforts to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled. Plans can include coordination with electric vehicle infrastructure and new technologies as long as the primary focus is on land use and transportation choices. While cleaner fuels and more efficient vehicles are important for reducing GHGs and air pollution, overall GHG reduction and many of the other benefits of sustainable communities occur only if we make it convenient for people to drive less. If other items get added on, the targets should adjust to account for that.

Join us tomorrow!
If you’re in Southern California, head out to Diamond Bar tomorrow to ask ARB to continue its track record of leadership! If you cannot attend in person, you can listen to the webcast online. Agenda and more info are here.

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