CARB Sets Ambitious Emissions Redux Targets to Promote Smart Development

It has been busy week for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and its efforts to tackle pollution and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Not only did CARB adopt a standard for clean energy usage, but the Board has also adopted the final targets for emissions reduction under Senate Bill 375 (Steinberg, 2008). Under SB 375, CARB had until September 30, 2010 the adopted targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and 2035 that are associated with passenger vehicle miles traveled. The targets adopted this week are realistic, yet ambitious, and have finally been agreed upon after careful consideration by both CARB and the state’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations.

SB 375 calls for cities and counties in California to use these targets in order to develop sustainable strategies for growth and development over the next 25 years.  This law encourages governments to make development decisions that differ from past generations.  Instead of sprawling suburbs 20 miles from city centers, SB 375 promotes improved planning, allowing residents to live closer to where they work and play, and encourages increasing transportation choices such as better public transit and more walkable streets and cities. These development practices will not only create closer knit communities with less traffic, but also reduce the emissions that come from passenger vehicles, creating less polluted and healthier neighborhoods.

The following is a list of reduction targets adopted by CARB calling for a percent reduction in per-capita emissions by 2020 and 2035:

  • San Diego Area: 7 percent and 13 percent
  • Sacramento Region: 7 percent and 16 percent
  • Bay Area Region: 7 percent and 15 percent
  • Southern California: 8 percent and 13 percent, with the 2035 target conditioned on discussions with the MPO
  • San Joaquin Valley (includes eight planning organizations): placeholder of 5 percent and 10 percent, to be revisited in 2012
  • Targets for the remaining six Metropolitan Planning Organizations—the Monterey Bay, Butte, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta and Tahoe Basin regions—generally match or improve upon their current plans for 2020 and 2035.