Transportation emissions are the number one source of greenhouse gases in California and many other advanced economies. Our reports present options to reduce these emissions, with a focus on clean fuels through greater adoption of zero-emission vehicles and use of low-carbon biofuels, as well as for reducing the need for driving through enhanced public transit options and improved freight delivery systems.
Streamlining Sustainability: Regulatory and Permitting Improvements to Achieve California’s Freight Goals
Freight is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in California and feeds commerce and agriculture throughout the state and the entire nation. But the trains, trucks, aircraft, and ocean vessels that ship goods throughout California are responsible for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollutants.
California’s freight system leaders will need to maximize its efficiency to retain this position of prominence while protecting California residents and workers. The recommendations outlined in Streamlining Sustainability can help California achieve its ambitious emission reduction, public health, and economic competitiveness goals.
California law requires developers of new projects, like apartment buildings, offices, and roads, to reduce the amount of overall traffic the projects generate. To facilitate compliance with this new requirement under Senate Bill 743 (Steinberg, 2013), some state and local leaders seek to create special “banks” or “exchanges” to allow developers to fund off-site projects that reduce driving miles, such as new bike lanes, transit, and busways.
Our new report, Implementing SB 743, provides a comprehensive review of key considerations for local and regional agencies tasked with crafting these innovative mechanisms to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and overall emissions.
Some countries and states, including California, are contemplating or making plans for phase-outs or bans on the sale of new internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by a date certain. Such a phase-out would be critical to achieving long-term climate goals and improving public health.
In California, the state will eventually need full consumer adoption of zero-emission vehicles in order to achieve legislated long-term climate goals. To that end, Governor Brown set a goal of reaching five million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) on California’s roadways by 2030, including 250,000 public chargers by 2025, and as of mid-2018, Californians were driving over 400,000 electric vehicles.
100% Zero identifies key challenges and solutions to achieving a scenario in which 100 percent of new vehicle sales are zero-emission, based on a convening of expert stakeholders.
Transitioning freight transportation to zero-emission technologies, such as battery electric and hydrogen
fuel cells, would yield substantial environmental, equity, and public health benefits. However, various regulatory technological, and financial barriers hinder the achievement of these goals. To address the challenges and policy solutions to achieve zero- emission freight at the Southern California ports, UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate and Environment and the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) hosted a conference at UCLA on June 8, 2018, Toward Zero-Emission Freight at Southern California’s Ports.
Our Summary Report outlines the main challenges and opportunities suggested in this day-long conference.
California’s freight system is responsible for 1/3 of statewide jobs, as well as a major source of both greenhouse gas emissions and local air pollution in the state. New innovations in technology and infrastructure have the potential to improve efficiency and reduce pollution, but policy and industry support will be essential to achieve California’s environmental goals.
Key findings: Our report identifies an expansive group of new freight transportation technologies and infrastructure developments and the policy innovations needed to make them reality in California.
California will need widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles (EV) in order to achieve the state’s environmental and energy goals. But achieving these goals will require a significant boost to EV charging infrastructure, particularly in workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, and fast charge “plazas.”
Key policy recommendations: expanded utility investments, at least up to the wiring of new charging stations; reform of commercial electricity rates to encourage more optimal charging times and locations based on grid needs; and expedited permitting and energy data access for charging stations in the most strategic locations to boost EV adoption.
Transportation fuels from fossil sources represent the single largest source of carbon emissions in California. Low-carbon biofuels, which are derived from agricultural sources as well as alternative sources such as algae and food, reduces petroleum fuel consumption as a substitute fuel. Yet California is missing opportunities to produce more of this biofuel locally, with attendant environmental and economic benefits.
Key policy recommendations: The grades reveal that high-performing stations are often in the middle of transit systems in downtown-like environments, while the poorest-performing stations are often located at the outer edges of the rail systems and the urban areas. Low density, auto-oriented areas, even when graded against similar place types, scored poorly.
Our analysis of California’s rail transit systems discovers which transit stations serve as hubs of thriving, walkable areas that encourage residents and workers alike to ride the train, and which station areas need improvement. The report divided rail transit station areas into three types: residential, employment, and mixed, and calculated grades based on 11 key indicators including walkability, ridership levels, existing land-use and permitting policies, affordability and transit quality.
Key findings: The grades reveal that high-performing stations are often in the middle of transit systems in downtown-like environments, while the poorest-performing stations are often located at the outer edges of the rail systems and the urban areas. Low density, auto-oriented areas, even when graded against similar place types, scored poorly.
Also see our op-ed in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
California’s state, regional and local governments spend roughly $28 billion each year on transportation, with the majority of the funding for highways and other auto-oriented infrastructure. Yet state laws related to greenhouse gas reduction, more compact real estate development, and multimodal transportation options, such as walking and biking, necessitate reductions in vehicle miles traveled.
Key policy recommendations: State-developed project performance standards to ensure new transportation projects meet various sustainability metrics, a greater percentage of transportation dollars directed to maintenance of existing infrastructure (including “complete streets” options), and improved transparency and decision-making in allocating transportation funds.
High energy costs, significant adoption of residential and commercial solar photovoltaic panels to reduce electricity costs, and limited driving range due to the island geographies make Hawai‘i a logical fit for mass electric vehicle adoption. This report summarizes the overarching barriers and opportunities for mass electric vehicle deployment in the state and assesses the specific challenges and opportunities on each the islands.
Key policy recommendations: Improve electricity rate structures and coordinate business partnerships to expand charging infrastructure, facilitate new fleet purchases of electric vehicles, and remove restrictions on net metering to encourage greater adoption of commercial and residential solar.
California will soon begin construction of a proposed high speed rail system in the San Joaquin Valley, which will ultimately connect to Los Angeles and San Francisco. If implemented poorly, however, the system could lead to unchecked development in the Valley that could increase traffic, exacerbate the loss of farmland, and generate more air pollution.
Key policy recommendations: a Valley-wide collaborative to create a plan for economic growth and environmental preservation around the high speed rail network, support for local planning and mitigation efforts to implement it, and new financing mechanisms to catalyze private investment in station-connected development.
Also see our webcast presentation featuring Fresno mayor, Ashley Swearengin.
Long term, mass consumer adoption of electric vehicles will help California meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas goals while boosting the economy with domestically produced fuel (in the form of electricity) and sales from California-based electric vehicle companies and suppliers.
Key policy recommendations: Industry and policy-maker coordinated education and outreach campaign about the consumer benefits of electric vehicle technology, reduced taxes and fees to lower the upfront cost of the vehicles, and a well-planned and coordinate public charging infrastructure.
Also see our webcast lunch briefing accompanying the release of this report.
A well-funded and comprehensive public transit system in California could help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with driving and save residents and businesses time and money.
Key policy recommendations: State policies that lower the threshold for voter approval of transit tax measures, authorization of tax increment financing for transit improvements, better land use surrounding transit stations, and more efficient use of existing transit resources and infrastructure development.