Delivering the Goods: How California Can Create the Sustainable Freight System of the Future


March 2018

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.

Our report, the result of a two-day symposium with the California Air Resources Board and freight experts from government, industry, environmental nonprofits and other key stakeholder groups, identifies an expansive group of new freight transportation technologies and infrastructure developments and the policy innovations needed to make them reality. The report provides a comprehensive view of the economic and environmental future of California’s freight system as the state drives it toward sustainability.

Key Findings

Using the state’s Sustainable Freight Action Plan as a touchstone, the expert group described near- and long-term innovations that California’s freight can adopt to maintain and improve its status as a driver of the state, national and international economies while also promoting ambitious climate and air quality goals. The report identifies the six most significant, systemic challenges to achieving this vision and the top solutions to each of those challenges. Top solutions include:
  • Implementing pilot projects for infrastructure such as freight-only lanes and electrified ports that are necessary to develop and deploy new efficient technologies.
  • Increasing the availability of technical assistance grants to help communities located near transit infrastructure, which are often low-income communities of color, to meaningfully engage in the freight planning process and to identify key health and quality of life concerns.
  • Creating a secure, standardized information-sharing platform to help industry and government collaborate in identifying efficiencies and advancing research goals.

Policy Recommendations

Developing a sustainable freight system that benefits all Californians will require long-term collaboration among government, industry and community stakeholders. Our report identifies a range of opportunities to increase cross-agency collaboration, integrate industry capabilities and limitations into policy planning, and incorporate more community input in order to facilitate this collaboration and ensure economic and environmental gains throughout the freight landscape.

Download the Report:

Delivering the Goods: How California Can Create the Sustainable Freight System of the Future (March 2018)

Also see our op-ed in Capitol Weekly:

California’s Road to Sustainable Freight (May 9, 2018)

View Our Webinar Discussion

For More Information:

Contact Ethan Elkind, Director of the Climate Program, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley Law