California's plan for reducing carbon emissions
California's pattern of sprawl could hamper its plan to become the first state in the nation to effectively reduce climate change gases.
By state law, California must cut climate change emissions to what they were in 1999. The state's come up with a plan and in Los Angeles officials have just held their first public meeting to discuss the details. But as "Living on Earth's" Ingrid Lobet reports, some who attended say the plan doesn't go far enough.
If you take all the emissions from cars, trucks, power plants, buildings, cows, everything in California, and divide it by the number of residents, you get 14 tons of gases per person per year. That must be chopped down to 10 tons.
Tim O'Connor of the Environmental Defense Fund says: "This is equal to taking 28 million cars off the road by 2020. Even putting it another way, it's like shedding all the emissions inventory of Missouri, the fifteenth largest emitter of all the US States."
O'Connor is just one of dozens to testify at this first hearing on California's broad plan to cut CO2 emissions from everything. Fran Pavley spoke up early in the hearing. She's the former fifth grade teacher and former assemblywoman who in her first term, shepherded California's earliest climate change law through the state legislature.
Pavley: "How do we incentivize cities and builders to change from continuing California's pattern of sprawl and dependence on the automobile, instead of creating those walkable neighborhoods and towns linked by effective public transit?"
Addressing the reality of how many miles we drive, of land use, is more complicated than cutting emissions from a factory. And more people took the podium for this issue than any other. Michael Woo spoke for a new coalition that's come together on this issue to try to end the era of distant suburbs built without taking into account the ensuing car exhaust. Woo took officials to task for giving the problem short shrift.
WOO: "The emissions reduction target for land use sector is set by the draft plan is abysmally low. Because transportation is largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions, and because our sprawling land use patterns are the prime cause, of our overuse of automobiles and our over dependency on gasoline, the draft plans light touch on land use means the plan misses the historic opportunity to directly address one of California's main contributions to climate change."
Woo and several others pleaded with officials to put a ceiling on emissions from each town or region. That would force local authorities to reduce sprawl and increase buses and trains.
Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit.