Achieving CA Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets AB 32

The University of California Berkeley has just released a 117 page report for the California Air Resources Board and  the California DOT entitled “Achieving California’s Land Use and Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets Under AB 32: An Exploration of Potential Policy Processes and Mechanisms.” That’s a mouthful.

Should I cut to the chase? Compliance is neither pretty nor cheap.
No, I will not post every word from this extensive, detailed report but will provide direct comments from the ABSTRACT, EXECUTIVE SUMMARY, and EXPERT INTERVIEWS.
Let’s begin with AB 32. “Continuing its role as a leader in air pollution policymaking, California led the nation by passing the first global warming legislation in the U.S.: the Global Warming Solutions Act or Assembly Bill (AB 32).



 The legislation requires California to decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 (approximately a 27 percent reduction) using an enforceable statewide target to be phased in beginning in 2012. In addition, in 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger issued Executive Order S-3-05 which charges California with the task of reducing GHG emissions to 2000 levels by 2010, reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and reducing emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

Gilbert comment. What brand of cigar was the governor smoking in agreeing to that impossible emissions reduction mandate as our statewide population and residential and commercial development has increased since 1990.  Our population alone has increased by 14 percent in that decade.

In the Executive Summary it reads that “California has committed itself to becoming a leader in GHG emission reductions in the U.S., and the policies implemented in California will likely shape decisions made at the national level regarding global warming mitigation. The literature review summarizes the key transportation and land use-related policy approaches, possible policy mechanisms, and strategies that could be employed to meet AB 32’s GHG reduction goals. A variety of policy approaches are available on a spectrum ranging from voluntary to regulatory, while regulatory approaches are available on a spectrum ranging from voluntary to regulatory; while regulatory approaches have traditionally been used in environmental  policy in the U.S., market based approaches have become increasingly popular due to concerns about cost of GHG reduction due to the wide range of policies needed to meet AB 32 goals, a mix of policy approaches is likely to be adopted.”

In preparing this report the authors conducted five regional workshops “regarding the long term effectiveness of changing land use patterns from the dominant 20th century pattern of single use, automobile dependent development (more sprawling) towards a new paradigm for the 21st century. This new paradigm reflects denser, smaller-sized homes; supports more walkable development forms; mixed residential, commercial, and retail land uses; “clean” jobs; and public transit and other modes that are convenient and accessible.”
In the report SUMMARY Builders/developers “who participated in the expert interviews agreed that pricing has the potential to be one of the most effective GHG reduction strategies, but it is challenging to implement due to a lack of political will and public support.” Key points from this group is “a strong need for CEQA reform, which will help facilitate infill project approval; 2) the state should go after gross polluters first; 3) the public needs education on how to reduce their carbon footprint; 4) regions need to develop their own plans; and 5) land use and transportation are complex, and these issues will take time.”
Elected officials “thought pricing was one of the top reduction strategies, but they noted how difficult it is to implement.  Three (elected officials) mentioned TODs (transit oriented development) as a possible long-term solution, including providing economic incentives for pedestrian infrastructure, public transportation, and creating more transit-friendly urban footprint. However, one expert noted that the market for condos and some mixed-use housing had disappeared in his region, as the cost of single-family homes had decreased significantly.”

Gilbert closing comments. Some key words in  this report are “behavioral change” and “education.”

Just what the doctor ordered. To meet the unreasonable global warming mandate by increasing the burden on our local industry, watch as Mayflower moving vans take another group of California companies out of state along with all the related jobs.

About Larry Gilbert