Drifting Toward a Cliff

As shown in this California Air Resources Board (CARB) chart below, California’s actions designed to conform to SB375’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction requirement have been less than stellar. True there has been some lowering of the ultra-high levels that were occurring between 2000 and 2008, but this improvement resulted mostly from federal and State mandates imposed on automobile and truck manufacturers to improve engine efficiency. 

But to get to where California needs to get will require much more than just that. In terms of reduced automobile and truck use, virtually no progress has been made and the Bay Area is no exception to this. As can be seen, in order to meet the 2030 and 2050 targets the pace of reducing car use and making other GHG-reducing changes must pick up significantly. So why have efforts to clear the roadways and reduce GHG emissions so far been so lethargic? 

As one county official recently put it: “it all comes down to a lack of regional leadership”.  Despite the fact that the State of California acting through CARB holds California’s Metropolitan Planning Organizations (the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in the case of the nine-county Bay Area) accountable for responding to and implementing SB375, the pronouncements and actions emanating from MTC have been minimal, thereby leaving cities and counties in the unenviable position of trying to impose changes upon their local and county constituencies without any pressure or even direction from the Regional Agency that should be leading the effort.  

As indicated in the chart, some very heavy lifting lies just ahead. So it’s time for MTC to wake up and replace its heretofore lackadaisical response to climate change with a vigorous and forward-moving program. Five elements of the program needed to replace the status quo with something better are outlined elsewhere in this Newsletter under the article entitled “Avoiding the Impending Bay Area Stall”. 

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