What’s driving California’s emissions? You guessed it: Cars.

California received plenty of praise back in 2016 when it hit
its target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions four years ahead of
time. But the Golden State’s progress has slowed, according
to a report
out Tuesday from a nonpartisan research center
. California is
now on track to hit its 2030 goal in 2061. Three whole decades
late.

The biggest problem: California’s beloved cars.

“This is a sobering report,” said F. Noel Perry, a
California investor who founded the center behind the report, Next
10. “We are at a very important point: California is going to
need major policy breakthroughs and deep structural changes if
we’re going to meet our climate goals.”

What happened? Over the last three years, California has reduced
emissions at a rate of only 1.15 percent. At that pace, it would
take a century for the state to zero-out carbon emissions. But a
law ex-Governor Jerry Brown signed in 2016, requires the state to
reach zero emissions by 2050. Since falling behind, the state would
need to step up emissions reductions to 4.51 percent every year,
according to the report.

Next 10

Next 10’s report, the California Green Innovation Index, shows
that the state has plucked most of the low-hanging fruit, mainly by
cleaning up electricity production. California’s next challenge
is the tougher job of eliminating climate pollutants from
transportation, industry, and homes, and offices. And, yes, all of
those cars.

Passenger vehicles alone produce nearly a third of
California’s emissions, more than all of the electric plants,
livestock, and oil refineries in the state put together. Vehicle
ownership has reached an all-time high, as has the total miles that
Californians are driving. Moreover, “even in climate conscious
California we’ve seen a consumer preference shift to favor SUVs
and light trucks,” said Adam Fowler of Beacon Economics, which
prepared this report for Next 10.

Next 10

Since early 2017, more than half the new passenger vehicles
Californians bought were SUVs and trucks.

Another big, related problem is housing. California’s economy
is booming, but cities haven’t built the homes needed by all the
new workers. That’s forcing more people into suburbs far from
public transportation. The report found that the percentage of
people choosing public transit “declined substantially throughout
most of California between 2008 and 2018.” Failure to build
housing is doubly bad because new buildings are much more efficient
in terms of insulation,climate control, and energy efficiency.
Every new home
even gets solar panels
.

“This is one of the gnarliest challenges,” Perry said.
“How do we reduce commute times and how do we build denser
housing?”

It’s not all bad news. California continues to prove it’s
possible to cut carbon emissions while the economy expands. From
2016 to 2017, California’s economy per capita grew 3.1 percent
while each person’s emissions decreased.

And the authors said that the state still deserves a lot of
credit. “California policies have made appliances more efficient,
renewable energy cheaper, and given cars better gas mileage all
across the country,” Perry said.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
What’s driving California’s emissions? You guessed it:
Cars.
on Oct 8, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
What’s driving California’s emissions? You guessed it: Cars.