“Getting California on Track: Seven Strategies to Reduce Global Warming Pollution from Transportation” is Our Site of the Day4 min read

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The California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG) has released just in time for Earth Day reading and reflection: “Getting California on Track: Seven Strategies to Reduce Global Warming Pollution from Transportation.”

This timely and well researched 46 page report comes as the Schwarzenegger administration is developing a much-anticipated plan to reduce global warming emissions statewide by nearly 30 percent by 2020.

Among its findings:

• Transportation is the largest source of global warming pollution in California – responsible for 38 percent of our annual emissions.

• If recent trends continue, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation are expected to grow by 23 percent above 2004 levels by 2020 – increases that could derail the state’s cutting-edge efforts to address global warming.

• By aggressively implementing seven strategies to reduce growth in vehicle travel, improve energy efficiency, and promote the use of lower-carbon fuels, California can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from transportation by 14 percent below 2004 levels by 2020 – a 31 percent reduction below business as usual – and by 25 percent below 2004 levels by 2030 – a 46 percent reduction below business as usual.

• Emission reductions of this magnitude will play an important role in helping California achieve its economy-wide targets for reducing global warming pollution. But they are unlikely to be enough – California policy-makers will need to consider additional strategies to reduce the impacts of the state’s transportation system on the global climate.

The seven strategies are:

Limit global warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes. California’s pioneering limits on global warming pollution from vehicles will reduce emissions from new cars, light trucks and SUVs by approximately 30 percent by 2016, with further reductions in future years. The state should continue to work to ensure that the federal government grants California and other states the ability to enforce the standards as soon as possible and also pursue other options – such as financial incentives – to encourage the purchase and production of vehicles that produce less global warming pollution.

Limit global warming pollution from transportation fuels. California should encourage the development of advanced vehicle fuels and technologies – such as plug-in electric vehicles and biofuels with low life-cycle impacts on global warming – that can reduce emissions from transportation. The state is currently developing a low-carbon fuel standard designed to reduce global warming pollution from transportation fuels by 10 percent by 2020 and California has long promoted innovative sources of vehicle propulsion through the zero-emission vehicle program.

Reduce emissions from heavy-duty trucks. There are currently no fuel economy or global warming pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks like tractor-trailers, which produce large and growing amounts of global warming pollution. California is beginning to develop regulations to reduce emissions, and the federal government has committed to improving heavy-duty truck fuel economy.

Promote alternatives to drive-alone work trips. Commutes to work account for more than a quarter of all vehicle travel nationally and are a prime reason for congestion on our roadways. States such as Oregon and Washington have shown that creative programs designed to reduce drive-alone trips to work can reduce vehicle travel and ease congestion and California should follow their lead.

Build high-speed rail. Air travel is a large source of global warming pollution in California. Yet, for many long-distance trips within the state, high-speed rail could provide service that is just as quick and convenient as air or car travel, but with far less pollution. The state should build the proposed high-speed rail line linking Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Expand the state’s transit systems. Public transportation in California already reduces global warming pollution by 3.6 million metric tons per year. Yet, there are many portions of the state – even in the largest metropolitan areas – where residents do not have easy access to high-quality transit service. California should invest in transit to ensure that most residents of the state’s largest metropolitan areas have access to good transit service by 2030.

Stop sprawl and expand transit-oriented development. California’s population is projected to grow by 26 percent by 2030. The state should work with local governments to ensure that our growing population is housed not in sprawl-style developments that demand more driving, but rather in compact developments where residents can walk, bike or take transit to get most of the places they need to go.

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