California Air Resources Board Adopts Regional Targets for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions Associated with Light Duty Vehicles

At its meeting in Sacramento yesterday, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and 2035 associated with passenger vehicle travel in the state’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations. (Earlier post.)

The proposed targets, required under SB 375 (2008, Steinberg), are designed to help coordinate land use and transportation planning. The law requires cities and counties to use the targets to help develop sustainable strategies for growth and development over the next 25 years.

Improved planning will offer a wider variety of transportation choices, including public transit and more walkable streets and cities. It will also guide future development decisions so people can live close to where they work and play. While the goal is to reduce greenhouse gases from passenger vehicles, it also helps clean the air in the state by reducing the amount of pollution that creates smog.

The targets adopted today were the result of intensive collaboration between ARB and the Metropolitan Planning Organizations, involving strong and consistent input from cities, municipalities and the public.

The Board adopted the following targets. They call for a percent reduction in per-capita emissions by the years 2020 and 2035:

  • The San Diego Area: 7% and 13%
  • Sacramento Region: 7% and 16%
  • Bay Area Region: 7% and 15%
  • Southern California: 8% and 13%, with the 2035 target conditioned on discussions with the MPO
  • San Joaquin Valley (includes eight planning organizations): placeholder of 5% and 10%, to be revisited in 2012
  • Targets for the remaining six Metropolitan Planning Organizations—the Monterey Bay, Butte, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta and Tahoe Basin regions—generally match or improve upon their current plans for 2020 and 2035.

In adopting these regional targets, the Board recognized and committed to help identify the funding and resources that are essential tools for regions to move forward successfully towards more sustainable communities.

With the targets now largely in place, the cities within each region will work together with their planning agency to begin developing a Sustainable Community Strategy. Each strategy, designed to accommodate the specific needs and requirements of each region, outlines where growth and development will occur, and how the transportation system can support that growth so that their region’s targets can be achieved. Cities are full partners in this process and retain full local decision making and zoning authority.

The adoption of the targets marks a major milestone for the implementation of SB 375, the landmark bill Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law in September 2008. A 21-person advisory committee of experts issued a report in 2009 recommending that the targets be expressed as a percentage reduction of per capita greenhouse gas emissions produced from transportation, using 2005 as the baseline.

The targets adopted include forecasts and computer modeling by the planning organizations that reflect a wide variety of strategies, including such things as:

  • shifts towards multi-unit housing closer to a city’s center;
  • increasing the number of workers who telecommute and carpool;
  • adding carpool lanes; or
  • increasing the number of people who take public transit.

Regions that meet the targets may receive incentives in the form of easier access to federal funding and streamlined environmental review for development projects.

Resources

  • Proposed Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets for Automobiles and Light Trucks Pursuant to Senate Bill 375 (ARB Staff Report)


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