Embracing a modern energy and transportation mix is going to help give us a healthier environment, more jobs, and opportunity for our people and region. We are stepping into the future rather than putting off the actions we need to undertake for our well-being and the viability of our area.
The need for action to reduce carbon and fossil fuel usage is urgent. Everything we build and use has a lifecycle; the International Energy Association estimated in 2011 that by 2017, what we build and have in place, if used for its full life cycle, would be enough to warm the world over 2 C over temperatures in the industrial era. The nations of the world agreed that 1.5 C was the target and in any case, warming should be kept “well below 2 C” in the December 2015 Conference of Parties (COP-21). Any additional warming carries grave consequences (see more detailed table and section of this document: Why we can’t wait).
The clear conclusion for the public sector and all who seek to spend resources wisely is that we must redirect investments away from fossil fuel and towards a regenerative path, without delay. Fortunately we have many alternatives, many good options before us. And we can prioritize as we create a system that is more efficient and that makes it easier to “do right” while delivering better outcomes for everyone. This means, in order of priority:
- Cleaning up our electricity system, shifting to renewables
- Electrifying our cars, appliances, et. al., and
- Everything else
Our energy, economic, and transportation systems affect many facets of life. Public design and implementation of a plan for rapid decarbonization provides our best path forward, toward clean air, better health, more access with less congestion, and jobs – while addressing a climate and environmental situation otherwise sliding toward an unfixable future. Our path also shows how a major city with millions of people can come together to invest in people, justice/fairness, and a healthy economy.
One of the strongest and most useful powers of government is in setting the context and demonstrating clear direction for a region, sending clear signals to the public and the market. Thus, our city chooses chooses to send the message that we are decarbonizing. We are choosing better air, more access with less congestion, and more jobs. We are choosing an ethical path regarding climate and the life, health and well-being of people here and many others.
Thus we are:
- Phasing out fossil fuel emissions in the region
- Phasing out investments in fossil fuel dependent infrastructure and investing in jobs and community well-being that deliver more for the money
- Figuring out how access by all citizens can be maximized while traffic can be minimized
- Elevating the importance of health and well-being in public decision-making
- Reinvesting in our region, people, and public places, including streets that are safe, healthy, and pleasant for people of all ages (8 to 80!)
A Green New Deal
We are calling for a Green New Deal, a mobilization of people and our government to transition our energy system and economy to make our way off of fossil fuels in the next 1-155 years. A Green New Deal would fight the corporate takeover of our democracy, the exploitation of the poor and people of color, and outline a just transition and major step towards ending unemployment, with a priority on providing resources to low-income communities and communities of color most impacted by climate change. It would provide assistance to workers and local communities with workers in the fossil fuel, nuclear and weapons industries and transition energy to community, worker and public ownership and democratic control, rather than maximizing profits for energy corporations, banks and hedge funds. Clean energy, health, and a basic standard of living are human right and a common good. And we must reorient toward producing for the common good.
Every year we burn four cubic miles of fossilized carbon worldwide. Initially this seemed like a good idea; it powered a lot of our industrial revolution. But now we know that the side effects of these trends are killing us and putting us, our kids, many others, and our life support systems in danger. It is time to get off of this treadmill and away from the fiction that “there is no alternative.”.
We’ve always known we’ll have to get off of fossil fuels sooner or later. Now we know we have to get off much faster, and this will be a good thing. In fact, for every amount we get off now, we improve our health and well-being, add jobs, keep more dollars in our local areas instead of sending it out of state or overseas, and invest in our children’s future. We can shift to one that is efficient, connected, distributed, secure, and safer and healthier for everyone.
Citizens of our region are dedicated to demonstrating a wise way forward for the benefit of all, not prolonging extraction by the top fraction of 1%, as long as they can get away with it and impose those costs on the rest of us. We see what is good and healthy for us, and we are choosing that, choosing life. This strategy outlines productive and efficient places to start.
Needed Rate of Change
Scientists and political leaders worldwide agree that reductions need to occur fast. As cryospheric scientist Eric Rignot has said, Antarctic melting and eventual flooding of many coastal cities can be prevented if we return global temperatures to what existed in the 1970s.
Taking the 1960-1990 average temperatures as the base period we need to return to, we can see how currently every year we are “continuing to fill the bathtub” or overfill the atmosphere with carbon, warming the earth and getting further from our goal of a good and stable future for our children, the planet, and our basic air and water systems. We have been seeing continued warming of 0.1-0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. We must turn emissions around now because of the effects we are already seeing and those that are on the way, and also because the heat absorption in the oceans and the persistence of pollutants in the atmosphere means that warming will continue for 30-40 years after we stop using the atmosphere as an open sewer for our fossil fuel emissions.
We have a lot of work to do and any delay now is simply immoral. It is also unaffordable. In fact, our delay is stranding assets and making the transition more expensive every day.
The time for transition is now. Stanford and UC Davis professors Prof. Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi and their teams have conducted analyses that found that 2030 is technologically feasible for an energy transition off of fossil fuels. They developed plans and energy combinations for each state to get to 80-85% renewables by 2030, adding 20 years to reflect political and economic challenges with the last, most challenging portion, perhaps industry and air travel. Industries respond to regulation though, and anyone — politicians, businesses, consumers — is told they have more time, they will take it. Stanford professor Tony Seba, consulted by the business, planning, and research communities in Australia and Europe, says the transition will happen much more quickly, following the rate of uptake for new technology. He projects EVs will become the norm in the next decade. The public sector needs to call for it and plan for the transition to clean energy and shared mobility for all.
Where We Start
Our Energy and Electricity
Forty percent of the fossil fuels we use go to power. A great asset in LA’s effort to decarbonize is the existence of municipally provided and controlled electricity.
The first step is to halt further investment in fossil-fuel powered electricity and avoid long term commitments to (and money wasted on) new fossil-fueled power plants or contracts. Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is nowhere near as good as the clean energy alternatives that are available right now to ensure reliable energy production. Georgetown, Texas chose renewables and their choice was all about the money. They took advantage of the low price of renewables and Texas’ open market to move to 100% renewables plus 100% extra to sell. This plan was completed in 2016.
There are many options available to manage the variability. Analysis by NREL and Mark Jacobson has shown that grid upgrades and a portfolio of renewable energies can cover 80% or more of the need. Market forces are very good at choosing a cost-effective mix when a fair, free, transparent marketplace is in place. Strategies we can consider include:
- Build more than needed and sell the excess like Georgetown, TX. Relies on an open market.
- Build complementary wind and solar. Wind and solar work well together. In most of the country wind blows best at night and in the winter. Solar is best during the day and summer.
- Electricity storage. Storage technology is evolving very quickly. And, batteries may end up lowest cost because of investments made in production for EVs.
- Distribute wind & solar around the map. For example, when the wind is blowing in Wyoming, there is a good chance it is not blowing in Colorado, and vice versa. Connecting wind farms in such places with electricity transmission reduces variability.
- Encourage/incentivize electricity use when the sun is shining and wind is blowing.
- Use existing fossil generators for transition and for the few hours a year the other measures aren’t enough.
- Use electricity efﬁciently.
Investments in efficiency and installation and maintenance of renewables, as well as investing in our people/children and public places to make them better places to learn, walk, bike, eat, shop and hang out — places we want to live, spend time, and be active — can employ many. (And a basic income for those who don’t have one is spent in and cycles through the economy, employing many more.)
We can start to get off of fossil fuels in our power supply by doing the following (thanks, John Farrell and ISLR for this list and many links!):
- Adopt a resolution to get to 100% renewable energy on a fast timescale. It’s a race! Ordinances have been developed by Pueblo, CO; Traverse City, MI; East Hampton, NY.
- Commit to developing local renewable energy to serve local energy needs; e.g., Taos, NM ordinance
- Minimize zoning and permitting costs for renewable energy systems; e.g., Lancaster, CA. Also check examples from community power map.
- Replace all public lighting with LEDs; e.g., Oahu, New York, NY ordinance
- Put solar on every possible public building & maximize energy efficiency of existing and future public buildings; e.g., ordinances in San Francisco, CA; New York, NY. All public buildings should be required to install net zero carbon emissions systems (solar, geothermal). Public housing over to heat pumps and more efficient ice-based air conditioning systems.
- Consider the full range of energy storage options. While batteries are coming down in price, there are many kinds of energy storage options beyond batteries. Stanford at night freezes ice in rooftop tubing, with the melted cold water from it used for air conditioning during the day. A pilot system in Okotoks, Alberta, uses solar plus heated rocks underground for winter heating.
- Commit to electrification of city fleet vehicles; e.g., Austin, TX ordinance
- Have the city host community solar projects for residents and businesses; e.g., Taylors Falls, MN; Minneapolis, MN
- Adopt the most efficient building energy code allowed by state law; e.g., Boston, MA; Tucson, AZ; Babylon, NY; Boulder County, CO. In NYC the big issue is buildings, which constitutes 75% of the carbon footprint. And after 7 years of voluntary retrofits, the big fight is now to make it mandatory, starting with those that are cost effective. LA may be able to draw best practices from these efforts.
- Require solar installations on all new buildings. See San Francisco, CA ordinance and examples in Lancaster and Sebastopol, CA.
- Require energy disclosure upon rental or sale of single-family housing. See Austin, TX ordinance for example for all homes, for new construction + remodels: Boulder, CO, new construction: Santa Fe, NM, and for Energy bill disclosure: Chicago, IL; Montgomery County, MD.
- Require energy disclosure upon rental or sale of multi-family housing. See Minneapolis, MN ordinance and examples: Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Washington, DC
- Require minimum energy efficiency investment as part of rental licensing. See ordinance from Boulder, CO.
- Reduce energy costs by deferring transmission and distribution costs, improving power quality, and shaving peak demand. See Minster, OH muni storage investment.
- For areas with a franchise agreement with a monopoly utility: Implement or increase utility franchise fee to finance energy savings programs. See ordinance: Edina, MN. Migrate toward community energy and keeping the profits from energy in the community.
We have only begun to tap our solar energy potential. We have the technical potential to generate tens to hundreds of times more solar energy than we currently do, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analysis of technical rooftop solar potential on small buildings.
The potential for rooftop solar is high. On small buildings it is ______. We can learn from others to boost our rank at ___th in per capita installation to where it should be. America’s leading solar cities are those that have adopted strong pro-solar public policies or that are located within states that have done so. Steps we can take to advance solar energy include the following (Frontier Group):
- Leading by example: The city government of Las Vegas now receives 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources, including a total of 6.2 MW of solar electric capacity. Solar energy systems are installed on 40 public buildings, including community centers, fire stations and parks. A 3.3 MW solar plant also provides power for the city’s wastewater treatment plant. Tampa and Raleigh have also installed large PV systems on city facilities and Albuquerque set a goal in 2016 to power its buildings with 25 percent solar energy by 2025. Cities that invest in solar power on public buildings not only save money on electricity, but they also demonstrate the value of solar energy to their residents.
- Expanding access through community solar policies and programs: Baltimore is making solar energy accessible to low-income households, nonprofits and small businesses through new loan and financing programs. Groups of homeowners and businesses in Athens, Georgia, and other cities have organized bulk purchasing programs that drive down the cost for everyone involved. New York and other cities are opening the solar energy market to apartment dwellers and others unable to install solar panels on their own roofs through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that allow residents to purchase shares of solar power from other electric utility accounts.
- Making it easier and cheaper to switch to solar energy: In 2016, Kansas City, Missouri, and 21 other cities were recognized by the SolSmart Program for lowering the costs and time involved in switching to solar energy. Kansas City earned the acknowledgment for allowing consumers to complete their solar energy permitting process entirely online and for making its building code more friendly to solar energy installations. Non-hardware costs, like zoning and permitting, now make up about two-thirds of the total price of residential solar systems, so changes like these will significantly lower the barriers for consumers to switch to solar energy.
- Adopting local policies that make solar energy the default: In 2016, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to require that solar energy systems be installed during the construction of new buildings. It is much easier and cheaper to install systems when the structure is designed for their inclusion and when there is already equipment on-site. The state of California is now considering adopting a similar proposal.
- Cities with strong policies to compensate consumers for the solar energy they supply to the grid— such as net metering—are often leaders in solar development. Like rollover minutes on a cell phone bill, net metering gives renewable energy customers fair credit on their utility bills for the excess clean power they deliver to the grid. This simple billing arrangement is one of the most important policies for clearing the way for customer investment in solar.
- Because net metering is such a powerful incentive for customers to switch to solar energy, fossil fuel interests and utilities have been attacking these policies across the country. In 2016 alone, 28 states proposed or passed changes to their net metering rules. For example, the Nevada Public Utility Commission’s decision to weaken net metering may threaten Las Vegas’ position as a top solar energy leader in the future.
Justice in Implementation
A number of EJ and labor leaders developed the following recommendations around justice and community well-being in implementation.
Require labor standards on construction projects that government funds, incentivizes, or mandates to save energy or meet GHG reduction targets. Require a community workforce agreement (CWA), or similar arrangements that include labor standards and targeted/local hire provisions, on fully subsidized public and ratepayer investments in low-carbon sectors. Labor standards—including prevailing wage, benefit, and apprenticeship standards—are crucial mechanisms for ensuring that low-carbon economic development results in high-quality, family-supporting careers. Labor standards are often linked with targeted hire provisions to broaden access to career-track jobs for disadvantaged workers. A number of vehicles exist for attaching labor standards to state GHG reduction measures that involve construction work.
- For Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Incentive Programs: Implement labor standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other low-carbon construction projects subsidized by public investment and utility ratepayer incentive programs.
- Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS): Require a CWA on RPS-eligible, utility-scale renewables in power purchase contracts. Alternatively, give preference in the PPA selection process to projects with a multi-craft CWA.
- Low-Income Weatherization Programs: Require a wage floor and build career ladders for low-income energy efficiency retrofit programs funded by utilities and the GGRF.
Invest in GHG-reducing public works projects that reach low-income people in your area. Prioritizing low-carbon investments in the public sector (i.e., public buildings and public infrastructure projects) offers a variety of equity benefits by providing a vehicle for community workforce agreements and ensuring direct investment in disadvantaged communities, while meeting GHG reduction goals.
- MUSH Sector Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Investments: Create a comprehensive deep retrofit program for MUSH (municipal, university, school, and hospital) and multifamily affordable housing markets that incorporates a community workforce agreement and is funded by existing ratepayer or public funds.
- Green Zones: Support comprehensive GHG reduction and community resilience investments in the most disadvantaged communities, devised through a multi-stakeholder, community engagement process that includes both environmental justice and labor organizations.
Ensure equitable distribution of ratepayer and public incentive funds for private low-carbon investments. Equity can be advanced by ensuring that programs to encourage adoption of solar, electric vehicle, and other low-carbon technologies do not require participants to be homeowners, have disposable savings, or have access to credit in order to benefit from government incentives. To the extent possible, decisionmakers should design programs to incentivize low-carbon investments that are delinked from ownership of individual assets like homes or vehicles. For example, for Community Solar Programs:
- Expand community solar programs that provide distributed solar to multiple households
- (including pass-through benefits to renters), prioritize participation from disadvantaged households and siting in disadvantage areas, and require the incorporation of CWAs.
Ensure just transitions for workers and communities affected by the decline of GHG-emitting industries. Overall, jobs are not likely to be lost but planning is still needed, including Industrial Planning for High GHG-Emitting Industries:
- Identify a lead state agency and a funding source and initiate an inclusive planning process to mitigate transition losses for workers and communities potentially impacted by industrial decline due to climate policy.
- Ensure that any cap and trade programs do not exacerbate pollution hotspots in disadvantaged communities and amend the program where necessary. Ongoing concerns about the possible adverse impact of the cap-and-trade system on existing environmental justice hotspots requires developing robust evaluation and collecting the data to monitor exposure, with a trigger to respond if cap and trade exacerbates pollution hotspots, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Addressing these issues requires incorporation of co-pollutant emissions, public reporting of cap-and-trade transactions by facility, and restrictions on facility-level trading and offset purchases at facilities in prioritized disadvantaged communities when necessary.
Ensure participation from labor and EJ representatives in all climate policy arenas.
State and local government should collect consistent, reliable, and publicly available data to monitor performance on key equity indicators. Although measuring progress may seem like a small step, we highlight the importance of performance reporting, following the adage “what gets measured gets managed.”
Statewide Public Accountability System to Track Equity Outcomes.
The state should develop an annual Climate Equity Report based on tracking equity outcomes to enable state officials to monitor whether equity goals have been reached, to identify areas where climate policy should be improved to advance equity, and to hold public bodies accountable for progress on equity in GHG reduction measures.
- Increase installed solar to _____ MW by 2030
- Increase cumulative energy storage to _____ MW by 2030
- Continue solar incentives and feed-in tariff (FIT) program
- Implement community solar and virtual net metering
- Streamline residential solar permitting/approval
- Revise new construction building code to ‘solar ready’
- Implement grid-scale storage pilot and programs
- Develop V2G platform and grid integration
- Installation and financing initiatives for solar installation on city infrastructure
- Work with State legislature to develop CAETFA administered on-bill financing program for residential/industrial solar and DSM installation activities
- Identify industry best-practices technology and implement city mandatory installation code for standardized bi-directional ZEV charging
- Establish Zero Net Energy building code for all new construction, including residential/commercial energy storage capacity
- Expand solar FIT program to include V2G activity
- Implement scalable Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) pilot for municipal building operations with integrated capture of waste heat and cold exhaust for thermal energy storage
- Provide bulk procurement, warehousing and regional staging of solar equipment for reduced implementation costs by contractors selected by competitive bid and engaged via cost-plus contracting arrangement
- Identify municipal properties with favorable solar profiles to expedite solar saturation installation
- Development of Government Owned, Government Operated (GOGO) solar panel manufacturing facilities for regional sales and revenue generation
- Development of Government Owned, Contractor Operated (GOCO) Li-ion battery storage manufacturing facilities for regional sales and revenue generation
- Expand GOGO Compressed Air Energy Storage/Thermal Storage systems for municipal, industrial and large commercial accounts
- Begin infrastructure buildouts to provide compressed air as a municipal service for distributed power generation and space cooling
Energy Efficient Buildings
- % reduction in building energy use (2013 baseline) per square foot by 2035
- 50% reduction in building electricity use (2013 baseline) by 2030
- 70% reduction in residential natural gas use (2013 baseline) by 2030
- Expand and promote current demand-side mitigation (DSM) efforts of the utility
- Develop and expand access to DSM funding initiatives
- Develop Green-Jobs Workforce to install DSM retrofits
- Pilot Zero Net Energy municipal building retrofit
- Develop Green-Jobs Workforce to provide key DSM measure installation services
- Leverage cost-reductions through bulk-purchase of key DSM technologies: ducted & ductless heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, blown-in cellulose rooftop insulation
- Work with State legislature to develop administered on-bill financing program for residential/industrial solar and DSM installation activities
- Expand and promote efficient lighting, gas-to-electric appliance purchase incentives
- Ensure full/adequate funding and availability of LA PACE program so that all homeowners and businesses that want to use property tax incentives to upgrade home-energy systems to current code and allow the homeowner to deduct 100% of all project costs from their taxes and/or schedule payments over time can do so. Property equity needs to be greater than project costs, based on the tax value of the house and what is owed in mortgage.
Carbon & Climate Leadership
- Decarbonization and excellent health, economy, and environment by 2035
- Increase knowledge dissemination of climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Develop innovation/knowledge incubators
- Ensure 100% of City’s light vehicles are PEV by 2035
- Reduce municipal greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% (2008 baseline) by 2035
- Reduce municipal energy use 35% by 2035
- Reduce municipal water use by at least 30% by 2035
- Work with 40 Cities in LA County to adopt a sustainability plan by 2035
- Ensure 100% of City’s vehicle fleet are PEV by 2030
- Ensure all City’s administrative building stock is ZNE by 2030
Lead By Example
- Implement deep-efficiency retrofits for municipal building energy and water consumption savings
Green City fleet
Increase City employees in public transportation incentive program
Implement low-water/no-water landscaping
Convert 85% of public golf course acreage to recycled water
Pursue a defined role for cities in AB 32 2.0
Seek regional strategies and commitments via Councils of Government (COGs), Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), and other venues to lead development of key issues
Develop a comprehensive “no emissions left behind” initiative
Implement phased-in replacement/retrofit of City’s light and heavy-duty fleet including PEV refuse collection, freight and bussing fleets
Implement a phased-in replacement/retrofit of City’s powered equipment to Li-ion battery pack operations, including battery trailer system for construction/landscaping equipment
Develop municipal CAES pilot for eventual City service platform. See (Local Solar)
Pursue aggressive implementation strategy scenarios & funding initiatives within AB 32 2.0 and pursuant to Executive Order B-30-15
Establish GOGO/GOCO “Made in LA” green technology consortium for the development of PPP manufacturing facilities of green technologies for sale within LA and abroad
Establish Green-Jobs Workforce. See (Environment)
Mobility and Access (Transportation)
While aiming for 100 percent electricity is a good start, we have to go a lot further than that.
Even more of our remaining fossil fuel usage (and air pollution) is from vehicles in and passing through our area. Worldwide emissions for electricity constitute about one-fifth of total greenhouse gas pollution, so we need to deal with the rest of our emissions as well, from cars, trucks, aircraft and ships. We need to electrify all transportation.
The LA region pioneered early awareness and action with regard to pollution from fossil fuels in the 1940s and 1950s, though this was countered by an industry-led Smoke and Fumes Committee, which hired public relations experts that went on to counsel the tobacco industry. Medical research today (see the health section) has found that air pollution from traffic 30 years ago still influences our health and causes earlier death, though recent exposures count more. And air pollution causes inflammation and physical changes in children’s brains, as well as dementia, anxiety, and depression in adults, in addition to a range of inflammation-related diseases.
Fossil fuels are on their way out and health and better streets for all are on the in. Some cities are beginning to ban fossil fueled vehicles by day, license number, or degree by which they pollute (such as starting with diesel-powered vehicles). Hence, if you want to ensure your future ability to make deliveries in LA, switch to electric or other clean power. How do we move towards a moratorium, for the public good?
In Norway, 37% of new passenger vehicles are electric and they expect that will be 100% by 2025. This is in a country where fossil fuels comprise 45% of exports and 20% of GDP; as Fortune puts it, Norway’s plan is “the geopolitical equivalent of a drug dealer that refuses to touch their own product.” Dutch lawmakers have also begun the process of instituting a ban on fuel-burning cars by 2025. In the Netherlands, electric cars have a 10% market share. One Dutch start-up is offering access to an EV with a 250-mile range and top speed of 92 mph with a $37 a week subscription. Germany’s Bundesrat (senate) passed a resolution that would ban ICE cars as soon as 2030. Germany recently put in place a €4,000 ($4,383)-incentive for EV purchases to accelerate the process.
India has also announced its intention to be a “100% electric vehicle nation” by 2030. “India can become the first country of its size which will run 100% [of]f electric vehicles,” Power Minister Piyush Goya said. The country wants to make the program “self-financing,” he said, something that could work without “one rupee support from the government.” Goya then made some astonishing remarks about the EV effort: “Can we actually give electric car for free (zero down payment), and people can pay for that out of the savings on the petroleum products. Innovation is possible, it just needs an open mind.” China is the largest market in the world for EVs and the government is aiming for a 10-fold increase in sales by 2025, offering subsidies up to 60 percent of an EV’s cost. China started with public fleets and taxis.
Already California climate regulators have said that car and truck pollution makes up the largest portion of California’s carbon emissions, and residents will need to drive less to reach the state’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. These driving reduction numbers also assume that the state will substantially boost the number of electric cars on the road and cut carbon from fuel. To get there, representatives from the Southern California Association of Governments and other regional agencies said they will need a lot of new money for transportation and housing — as much as $5 billion in the Sacramento region alone — as well as policy changes that could include tolls and other charges for people to drive in congested areas. Since 2008, regional governments have been responsible for developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by aiming to redirect development from sprawling outward to denser development into cities, adjacent suburbs and neighborhoods near mass transit lines. But regional governments have to revise their plans to meet the new targets now that the 2030 climate change goals passed the Legislature last year. An LA transition plan aiming for decarbonization by 2030 or 2035 would go significantly beyond that.
This plan or roadmap identifies a balanced package of actions, combining measures that
- AVOID unnecessary time, waste, public harm and public and private expenditure. For travel, this also means reducing unnecessary travel through e.g. land use planning or logistics redesign and halting counterproductive regulation that incentivizes travel by individual motorized vehicles.
- SHIFT to more efficient methods and modes by scaling up good practices.
- IMPROVE buildings, vehicles, and outcomes, including health, well-being, and happiness.
Los Angeles has been and will continue to be a national leader in investigating smart mobility and the changes we need to make to get there. We know there are smarter ways to face our challenges. Transportation is now the fastest-growing contributor to greenhouse gases. And it will also impact the way the city looks, namely by reclaiming the streets and parking lots devoted to the driving and storing of cars that sit motionless 95 percent of the time. Is this a good use of resources? Should such transportation (or the penalty of an even longer commute) be the requirement, to get around the region for households already having trouble making ends meet? Our analysis and that of others shows there are better ways. LA already has three key policy documents that are already shaping the region’s future: the Mobility 2035 transportation plan; the city’s sustainability plan; and Vision Zero, LADOT’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths.
No one technology—shared mobility, smartphones, connected infrastructure, autonomous vehicles—is going to solve the complexities of an urban transportation system. Rather, we need to understand how the technologies available to us can work together to create new opportunities, better air, and and better access for all. LA’s 2016 report, Urban Mobility in the Digital Age, categorizes recommendations into five major areas, ranging from initiatives that are already underway (display real-time arrival times at bus stops), to urban planning mandates (stop widening roads), to solutions that are six or more years out (launch a fully driverless public transit fleet). Like any LADOT initiatives, the upgrades would target specific neighborhoods first, namely ones experiencing exceptionally high numbers of traffic deaths; those fatalities have been increasing in recent years as Americans drive more, but could be reduced by up to 90% with human drivers out of the picture. Most of all, streets could be better places for people and for business development if they were better places to sit, ride, or shop. And they will be, with less noise and fumes, and more pleasant and protected space for cyclists and those walking, shopping, visiting or eating.
- Los Angeles intends to use emerging technology to make our transportation system so robust and responsive. Angelenos won’t need privately owned, single-occupancy cars—and we won’t need to devote 14 percent of all land in Los Angeles County to parking them. Right now we can use one of dozens of apps to locate and navigate to a nearby coffee shop, but we still have to keep our eyes peeled for parking; smarter development and parking management can allow future coffee shops to locate closer to those seeking them, reducing the need to drive and park.
- Lisbon, Portugal and the OECD Transport Forum investigated what can be accomplished with all trips — how every single origin and destination can be served with door-to-door pick-up and drop off (no more time-consuming transfers or traffic). They found spectacular results with shared mobility delivered by a fleet of shared taxis (six-seat vehicles) that offer on-demand, door-to-door shared rides in conjunction with a fleet of eight-person and 16-person mini-buses (“Taxi-Buses”) that serve pop-up stops on demand and provide transfer-free rides. Rail and subway services keep operating in the current pattern. Congestion disappeared, traffic emissions were reduced by one third, and 95% less space was required for public parking in this model, served by Shared Taxis and Taxi-Buses. Cars would be used intensively (10x more than current), but the car fleet needed was only 3% in size of the today’s fleet, meaning these would have faster turnover and the latest, cleanest technology. Total vehicle miles traveled would be 37% less even during peak hours. Citizens gain with shorter travel time and nearly all trips being direct, without need for transfers. Mobility is much cheaper thanks to the highly efficient use of capacity; prices for journeys in the city could be 50% or less of today even without subsidy. Huge amounts of space previously dedicated to parking can be converted to uses that increase livability, from public parks to broader sidewalks, and more and better bicycle lanes. Particularly striking is how a shared mobility system improves access and social inclusion. In the simulation, inequalities in access to jobs, schools or health services across the city virtually disappeared. Now Dublin, Ireland; Helsinki, Finland; and Auckland, New Zealand are examining the benefits with and pathway to pursuing this approach. OECD-ITF will have more information to share by early June. Metro LA is a much wider area with greater driving distances; we should investigate what the results would be here. US studies show that shared mobility and ridesourcing can still diminish traffic and pollution by large amounts (need to add cites).
- Achieving such results requires public intent and attention, including a big shift in incentives for private households, or some of the technological changes in store could create more traffic and sprawl. One path being investigated by some cities is managing individual car access to the city by limiting the number of days cars can be used. Another scenario allows private cars to drive in the city two working days per week. These provide significant reductions of congestion and emissions and could allow car owners to experience shared mobility solutions on the other days of the week, as part of a transition.
- Mike Berners-Lee describes how driving in traffic is more energy intensive than many expect; i.e., 22 kg (49 lbs.) CO2e per five miles of crawling each way in an average car. (Doing this every working day for a year would be 4.8 tons CO2e more than flying from LA to Barcelona and back.)
- A congested drive can cause three times the emissions of the same drive on a clear road. Driving in a traffic jam very roughly doubles your fuel consumption per mile. However, that’s only half of the story. Your presence on the road makes a lot of other people line up just a little bit longer. In fact, the extra emissions you force everyone else to produce (when you add them all together) is about equal to the extra emissions that you produce yourself as a result of having to line up instead of being able to drive straight through. In other words, if your journey is congested, by choosing to do it you cause about three times more emissions than you might expect. The queuing theory logic also works for the time that gets wasted, which is where the biggest public costs come in, as currently calculated (air pollution is underestimated).
- Are enough people in LA ready to trade their BMW for a minibus—even one that comes to their door? Small, self-driving buses, like EasyMile buses recently launched in Helsinki, will soon be available to provide on-demand rides. Contra Costa County is piloting Easy Mile buses to transport people to transit stops already. And a recent American Public Transportation Association report showed that the people who use on-demand rideshare the most are more likely to ride transit and less likely to own cars. Half of Uber and Lyft rides in San Francisco are already shared. Uber and Lyft are being used as a way to complement public transportation, especially in big cities. LADOT’s current strategy document is heavily focused on the power of public-private partnerships, working with companies like Waze and Syncromatics to gather and analyze transportation data and partnering directly with on-demand car services. Uber and Lyft have already been working with many cities, including LA, to help get people to and from transit hubs.
- LADOT is now testing how technology can serve the most transit-dependent communities.
- Infrastructure that delivers transit information, like Metro’s real-time bus arrival signage, which will be installed city-wide. Sensor-outfitted crosswalk designs that help reduce pedestrian fatalities
- A universal fare system that guarantees all forms of transit are priced affordably, with standardized rates. Sidewalk kiosks that let anyone summon and pay for rides. Autonomous DASH buses (LADOT’s neighborhood circulator buses) that could change routes to pick up disabled or elderly passengers. A pilot is underway in Wetlake. The plan is going to measure success by happiness with transportation. Transportation happiness refocuses on the customer, providing a higher standard of amenities for public transit, improving the experience, comfort, safety for all Angelenos, regardless of what mode of transportation they choose to traverse the city and region. This new approach will free up space for more housing of all types, more open space and other positive urban evolutions, alleviating many of the current concerns about development and growth, and allowing the region a better shot at serving people and their well-being.)
- Actions to Secure the Public Benefits of Shared Mobility
- LA is considering joining cities around the world in committing to and implementing the following:
- By 2020, all new vehicles intended for shared and intensive use must be clean fuel or EVs. Shared use vehicles include those used for hire to transport passengers or freight, including car-sharing. By 2025, all shared use vehicles (both public and private) must be clean fuel or EVs.* In densely populated areas, poor air quality has significant negative impacts on the health of residents. Intensively used vehicles have greater impact on air quality while also able to reap greater cost-benefits over combustion engines.
- New transportation BTUs added to energy grid must be renewable and keep pace with energy demand from electrified vehicles.
- Shared-vehicle and shared-ride services must use standard open APIs. LA and other cities want to maximize the likelihood of passengers sharing vehicle trips. This minimizes congestion and the need for expensive infrastructure expansion and improves air quality and health. It also requires one pool for the data, made possible through standard open APIs (application program interfaces). People are working on creating the standard right now. This will be released soon.
- LA will find and apply tools to maximize vehicle occupancy (passenger throughput) during congested periods. City streets are a scarce resource and should be efficiently used.
- As automated vehicles are rolled out, all of those operating in densely populated areas* such as the LA region must be part of a shared fleet. This is important for many reasons; i.e.,:
- maximize learning per vehicle in these first years and thus safety;
- ensure that vehicle maintenance and software upgrades are monitored and managed by professionals
- ensure that the benefits of autonomous travel are available to all and extend access;
- maximize efficiency of both vehicles and roads; and
- help manufacturers sell early autonomous vehicles to large-scale buyers before manufacturing supply increases, prices fall, and autonomous vehicles can be widely marketed.
- Local land use, zoning, building regulations, and user fees will support and incentivize these requirements. LA can draw from existing building, zoning, transport, road construction to remove barriers and enhance opportunities. Urban design guidelines, for example, should serve shared mobility rather than single occupancy vehicles (prioritizing compact and walkable) and eliminate parking minimums (and if parking is built, it should be flat plate and repurposable).
- The potential edge that fuel cell technology once had over battery electric cars — longer range and shorter refueling times — continues to dwindle. Today, advances in battery technology have cut into these areas, especially when price is taken into account. Battery costs are declining rapidly whereas hydrogen production remains very costly, plus, electric cars can be charged out home or work, whereas hydrogen fuel cell cars need an entirely new fueling infrastructure built across the world, and a very costly and sensitive one at that. As described at the Automotive News World Congress in 2015 (Elon Musk): “Hydrogen is an energy storage mechanism. It is not a source of energy. So you have to get that hydrogen from somewhere. If you get that hydrogen from water — so you’re splitting H20 — electrolysis is extremely inefficient as an energy process. If you took a solar panel and use the energy from that to just charge a battery pack directly — compared to trying to split water, take the hydrogen, dump the oxygen, compress the hydrogen to an extremely high pressure (or liquefy it), and then put it in a car and run a fuel cell — it is about half the efficiency, it’s terrible. Why would you do that? It makes no sense.”
- Labor/Automation Impacts and a New Basis for Living
- The EV and shared vehicle revolutions are already emerging. The automated vehicle revolution will happen in the 2020s and it offers a number of positive opportunities. It has the potential to save many lives, limit environmental damage, increase productivity and, as a result, improve living standards across the country if the gains are distributed equally. But the technology also has the potential to cause significant economic hardship for a number of workers, at least in the short term. For those who drive vehicles for a living, the full financial impact of this technological change will depend, in large part, on whether the transition takes a while or occurs relatively quickly. It will also depend heavily on whether the initial technology deployed is fully or partially autonomous.
- More than four million jobs will be lost nationally, with a rapid transition to autonomous vehicles, using data from the 2010 to 2014 merged American Community Survey released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Overall, 2.86 percent of all US workers are employed in driving occupations. Driving occupations, including delivery and heavy truck drivers, bus drivers, and taxi and chauffeur drivers, would be heaviest hit. Driving occupations represent a significant source of work for those with lower levels of educational attainment, with the vast majority (93.2 percent) of workers in these jobs possessing less than a bachelor’s degree. Workers in driving occupations have a poverty rate (7.32 percent) lower than the overall workforce (8.06 percent) and non-driving occupations alone (8.08 percent), which suggests that driving jobs are by and large “good jobs” that keep workers in driving occupations out of poverty.
- In light of the labor market disruptions that are likely to accompany a swift transition to fully autonomous vehicles, policymakers should prioritize solutions that best offset the negative effects of abrupt and widespread job losses. Policies that meet this criterion include:
- Automatic Unemployment Insurance (UI) and related re-employment assistance benefits should kick in automatically for eligible workers. The duration of coverage for these benefits should also be automatically extended during periods of high unemployment. UI and related job training and placement benefits should be fully funded and modernized to meet the anticipated demand.
- Progressive Basic Income – Since the efficiency of today’s technological advancements may outpace our ability to replace automated jobs with new jobs for the displaced, it would be prudent to establish a progressive basic income (PBI) to offset the likely potential for seismic changes in the labor market. The Social Security program—which has features that facilitate the collection and distribution of revenue on a broad scale—is the most effective and efficient delivery mechanism by which this could be accomplished. A Progressive Basic Income would not replace Social Security’s retiree, disability, and survivor programs, but would be part of an expanded Social Security system.
- Education and Retraining – Since the vast majority of workers in driving occupations have lower educational attainment levels, education and retraining could help displaced workers secure comparable or better jobs. Although higher education does not necessarily translate into jobs or economic mobility, policies that promote affordable postsecondary education and training options— with built-in subsidies for displaced workers—as well as fully funding existing programs such as American Job Centers, are important options.
- Automatic Medicaid Eligibility – Federal and state governments should expand Medicaid eligibility to automatically cover displaced workers with household incomes below a determined level. This type of assistance will enable workers to protect their health and their wallets while they seek opportunities to retrain, get additional education, and/or find a new job.
- Expanding Support for Entrepreneurs – Programs and incentives that can help displaced workers start and sustain businesses could lead to job creation and have a generative effect on the U.S. economy.
- Improvements for walkers and cyclists, neighborhood and urban centers as a strategy for fewer trips
- Since 2008, regional governments have been responsible for developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by aiming to redirect development from sprawling outward to denser development into cities, adjacent suburbs and neighborhoods near mass transit lines. Rather than expecting all Californians to drive less, the state and LA could see substantial driving reductions if it changed policies to funnel new housing into cities, according to a study released by public policy think tank Next 10. The study, written by UC Berkeley environmental and housing researchers Ethan Elkind, Carol Galante and Nathaniel Decker, compared the effects of concentrating all future housing growth into areas that have already been developed with a scenario where only 60% of new homes were built in those locations, which is what happened from 2000 to 2015. The study found that residents living in already developed neighborhoods would drive about 18 fewer miles every weekday than those living outside those communities. California also would see higher annual economic growth, greater tax revenue and lower home construction costs from a more dense development strategy, and households would have lower monthly costs through reduced transportation and utility bills, the study said. Among other policies, the report recommended local and state governments consider:
- Reducing parking requirements and permitting times for housing, especially in existing high-density neighborhoods
- Giving cities that meet high-density housing goals more tax dollars
- Creating urban growth boundaries to limit sprawl
- Model transition strategies from cities have been pursuing 15-minute walksheds and neighborhoods with coffee, shops, and services within that are also available. Improvements to neighborhoods and arterials, for cyclists and those walking are important for multiple reasons, not just health, air quality, climate change, or facilitating a more active lifestyle. Over half of all roadway fatalities are intersection crashes and bicycle/pedestrian crashes. Cyclists and those walking need safer, more protected areas on our streets.
- Freight and Heavy Vehicles
- Freight emissions have a long way to go but the LA ports also are leading the nation in dealing with this problem. These efforts are described in detail elsewhere.
- Meanwhile, electric garbage trucks and other heavy vehicles are coming on line; medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are becoming electrified. Travelers who park at Los Angeles International Airport will be taking all-electric shuttle buses from WallyPark’s lots to catch their flights.
- Urban freight delivery still needs significant attention. European cities are tackling the issue and best practices are emerging.
- LA’s Existing Sustainability Plan Coverage + Additional Suggestions
- Current pLAn Mobility & Transit Targets:
- Reduce Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT) 10% by 2035
- Increase walking, biking and transit trips 50% by 2035
- Increase shared trip activity (car & bike share) 5% by 2035
- Additional/TCM Targets:
- Reduce metro-wide gasoline consumption 70% by 2030
- Reduce metro-wide diesel consumption by 60% by 2030
- Current pLAn Mobility & Transit Strategies:
- Implement first mile, last mile strategic plan
- Build bike transit infrastructure
- Site and build modal integrated mobility hubs
- Expand capacity of park and ride networks
- Expand Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)
- Fund Airport Connector
- Modify existing DASH routes
- Secure new funds for mobility projects
- Expand dynamically priced parking
- Pilot alternative car structures and technologies (autonomous car sharing)
- Additional/TCM Strategies
- Identify potential demonstration Car-Free Zone (CFZ) (City Center or shopping district)
- Develop CFZ park & ride system with no-cost ZEV door-to-door autonomous vehicle shuttle service
- Build out solar tiled bike/walk path infrastructure
- Develop electric powered public transportation infrastructure plans including shared autonomous vehicle service and public bussing with inductive charging capability
- Gradually expand CFZ buildout with increased EV & public transport infrastructure
- Develop autonomous ZEV light-cargo delivery fleet under the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan
- Develop and implement freeway corridor inductive charging system for PEV heavy freight and autonomous ZEV fleet operational charging
- Food, Agriculture, and Waste
- It is quite difficult to spend money without raising carbon levels, and buying and wasting food is particularly costly, in terms of both money and carbon emissions. Fortunately, Los Angeles has the benefit of a strong local food policy council to guide work related to food, local sustainable agriculture, and waste.
- Agriculture is an important area for climate change and for potential sequestration (sometimes termed “drawdown”). The IPCC estimated the world is producing GHGs at around 50 gigatons (that is, 50 billion tons) of CO2e a year and rising. Some impacts should be counted as more now though, as the impacts of different pollutants are relatively stronger over different timescales. For example, although we usually look at the impact of different gases over a 100-year time span (that is, up until 2115), climate change will wreak havoc much sooner than that, making it worth considering the impact over shorter timescales as well. This changes the relative impact of some gases, such as the methane released in agriculture or natural gas mining or transmission, powerful but short-lived become more important relative to the weak but long-lasting CO2, in the damage they cause this century. If you were to look at a 50-year timescale, for example, the non-CO2 emissions caused by agriculture, refrigeration, and air-conditioning would immediately become roughly twice as serious. Around half the methane comes from agriculture (especially livestock at 5% of global emissions, but also rice cultivation at 1.5% and other farming). The rest of the methane comes mainly from the extraction and processing of coal, gas, and oil; from landfill (2% of the global total – recent estimates indicate this could be higher); from the treatment of used water; and from other wastes. Nitrous oxide results mainly from the spreading of nitrogen fertilizer and manure, although there are also contributions from fuel combustion, industrial processes, and waste treatment.
- Food & Drink comprises 20% of our carbon footprint (or 30% with deforestation)
- Food and drink, often underestimated, come in at 12% just for those groceries bought at stores. If we include all the food and drink served by hotels, pubs, cafés, schools, hospitals, and so on, we’d get to about 17%. If we also added in the emissions from cooking at home, traveling to the stores, and the emissions from food waste sent to landfill, the total footprint of the stuff that goes into people’s mouths comes to about 20% of a person’s footprint (in the UK). It’s roughly the same percentage for the world as a whole. All these numbers are without considering the impact of food demand on deforestation.
- Two-thirds of the impact is on the farm. Supermarket operations make up about one-ninth of the total picture. Whereas CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas overall, it accounts for only 11% of ag emissions; the rest is nitrous oxide (53%) and methane (36%). Nitrous oxide is 296 times more potent per pound than CO2 as a climate-change gas, and on farms it results mainly from the use of fertilizer but also from cattle pee, especially if there is excessive protein in their diet, and from the burning of biomass and fuel. Methane, which is 25 times more potent than CO2, is mainly emitted by cows and sheep when they belch. Some is also emitted from silage. The CO2 comes from machinery but also from the heating of greenhouses to grow crops out of season or in countries that just don’t have the right climate.
- Possibilities for Los Angeles
- The food production model for the greater Los Angeles region awaits transformation. Front/back yard ‘victory’ gardens would help reduce emissions associated with food production/transport as well as provide jobs, food, and carbon sequestration. For more information on urban backyard farm production see: http://urbanhomestead.org/urban-homesteaders/ .
- Additional industrial scale food production may occur through the integration of aquaculture/agriculture farming hybrid projects and the renovation of abandoned industrial spaces. For more information see: http://www.growingpower.org/ and http://plantchicago.org/ .
- Finally, though the incorporation of Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) systems, a viable coastal greenhouse system, already incorporated in some international desert regions, would be successful for the cultivation of large quantities of food, while producing large volumes of potable water. For more information see: http://www.seawatergreenhouse.com/process.html . For the implementation of this technology, a regional compressed air energy storage and supply system would provide significant benefit through the utilization of very cold exhaust air for use in the water condensation phase and to provide direct mechanical power to pumping equipment that provides cold salt water to the greenhouses.
- In World War II, resources were provided to citizens at low-cost/no cost to citizens through the WWII victory gardens program. This very successful and popular program provided education, classes, seeds and soil amendments, pesticide and herbicide supplies, workforce and food preservation (canning/pickling) equipment to the general public in direct support of the war effort.
- City-wide food waste and bio-recycle material streams for compost and biochar activation could l be a necessary function of this project. The implementation of biochar production facilities (with associated electric power generation) to be used as a bio-filter for large-scale municipal compost operations, with a subsequent end-use product of activated biochar and humic compost as a carbon sequestration and soil amendment program is discussed further in the section “City Services” below.
- The implementation of these regenerative agriculture methods has been determined to be the best and most cost-effective method to produce net negative emissions. Several studies have shown that a global implementation of these techniques would suppress enough carbon to offset humanity’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions. For more information see: http://rodaleinstitute.org/assets/WhitePaper.pdf
- LA’s Existing Sustainability Plan Coverage + Additional Suggestions
- LA’s existing sustainability plan addresses environment, food, and agriculture. Additional suggestions have been made, below.
- Source 50% of all consumed water locally by 2035
- Reduce per capita water use 25% by 2035
- TCM Additional Suggested Targets:
- Source 70% of all consumed water locally by 2030
- Reduce imported food embodied water content by 45% by 2030
- Produce 85% of all vegetable produce consumed locally with subsequent increased water demand
- Produce 85% of all vegetable produce consumed locally by 2030
- Current pLAn Strategies:
- Development of “One Water Plan” comprehensive strategy
- Prioritize funding for local sourced water supply, recycling & treatment
- Develop water and wastewater tiered rate structure
- Revise building code for water use reduction and recycling
- Utilize permeable pavement ‘green streets’ to increase groundwater capture
- Promote and fund DWP conservation programs
- Reduction of city facility and proprietary department water by 20% by end of 2017)
- TCM Additional Suggested Strategies:
- Develop Green-Jobs Workforce program for the implementation of comprehensive low-cost/no-cost water conservation project implementation
- Establish public/private partnership for the development of comprehensive residential building stock retrofits for the construction of rooftop rainwater capture, solar-powered atmospheric water condenser systems and greywater capture & storage for residential agriculture use
- Identify and implement rooftop urban agriculture zones for city-use buildings
- Identify potential locations and implement public/private partnership urban aquaculture/Green-Foods Workforce activities
- Identify and implement seaside rooftop or floating barge seawater greenhouse agriculture systems for local food production and low-cost water desalinization
- Implement comprehensive 4-bin waste collection for all refuse intake systems, including composting, recycling, paper and landfill
- Develop Green-Foods Workforce program for the collection and processing of greenwaste and food waste products for civic recycling program. Include waste-heat and biogas capture and storage/CHP infrastructure
- Develop Green-Foods Workforce program for the implementation of ‘Victory Garden’ backyard & frontyard garden program. Services include siting, construction assistance, low-cost materials for design, operations and food preservation, educational classes and the delivery of civic-produced compost soil amendments.
- Establish regional biomass/biochar energy production activity for the generation of agricultural feedstock and increased carbon sequestration within ‘Victory Garden’ program
- Waste & Landfills
- Current pLAn Targets:
- Increase landfill diversion rate to 95% by 2035
- Reuse >50% of waste feedstocks by weight by 2035
- Current pLAn Strategies:
- Expand local organic waste-collection programs
- Implement municipal anaerobic digestion facilities
- Expand recycle feedstock Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF), promote waste-stream recovery activities in all sectors (municipal, industrial, commercial, residential)
- Implement waste franchise system
- Retrofit City Asphalt plant to produce 50% recycled content asphalt
- Industrial Activity
- To the degree possible, the import of materials and finished goods within the city limits should be reduced. Industrial activities within city limits should be subject to additional emissions regulations, including an ‘air quality pollution tax’.
- The provision for transformation/energizing of the industrial sector toward the buildout of renewable sourced energy and transportation infrastructure should be encouraged and even sponsored through public/private partnership activities. Industrial fossil fuel consumption for process heat sources should be targeted for replacement to electric-sourced methods, either through the use of radiative frequency generators (i.e. microwave) or through the direct heating of molten salts. The requirement of wide-scale implementation of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) for these processes should also be implemented. This scale of retrofit would require significant cost and material replacements, so much so that it would likely be prohibitive for nearly all privately-owned facilities. Only through direct (and substantial) subsidy of this transformation activity (in the form of discounted materials and power) will the retention of these industries be possible for the city region.
- Jobs, Equity, and Economy
- Renewable energy is one of our best hopes for jobs. A 2008 report by the Center on Wisconsin Strategies suggests that 8 -11 jobs can be created for every $1 million invested in building energy efficiency retrofitting. The American Solar Energy Society has estimated that jobs in energy efficiency industries are well on their way to quadrupling between 2007 and 2030, from 3.75 million to 16.7 million. Voters know this, which was one of the reasons they approved more than $200 billion in local, tax-funded measures for climate action and public transit, including in Los Angeles, Seattle and Austin.
- The New Climate Economy has found that smart urban growth can save the United States $200 billion annually. For example, making U.S. cities more transit-friendly could reduce car use by 50 percent and household expenditure by 20 percent, while cutting greenhouse gases. Cities that embrace a low-carbon future can also help to attract businesses. Many companies are looking to locate their businesses and operations where they can get access to low-carbon energy. Major companies like Walmart, Mircrosoft and Amazon are all investing in and increasing their sourcing from renewable energy. Former Portland mayor Sam Adams describes how their five-year economic development strategy to create jobs and make the city a vibrant and desirable place to live in fact created 15,000 jobs, 50 percent over their goal. As a part of the strategy, they launched an initiative called “We Build Green Cities” to promote Portland’s clean technology and clean energy exports to generate new local business opportunities, making agreements with Japan, Colombia, China and Brazil, leveraging expertise on smart cities to help them develop sustainability plans, while creating local jobs.
- There is less data about how many jobs would be created through going to a comprehensive national mass transit program such as LA is embarking on now; however an analysis in 2011 by Smart Growth America, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and U.S. PIRG, found that every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 16,419 job-months, while the same amount spent on highway infrastructure projects produced 8,781 job-months. Hence it appears that shared mobility generates 2:1 employment relative to highway or single-occupancy vehicle serving mobility. Other studies have found closer to a 10-20% increase. Also see More Transit, More Jobs.
- A public jobs program should be launched to secure the right to decent paid work through public jobs for the unemployed and those presently working in low paid service-sector jobs such as in fast food and retail and in sectors unlikely to exist in the future, related to fossil fuel mining and transport. Economist Philip Harvey estimated the net federal cost for 1 million living-wage public jobs in 2011 at $28.6 billion. The economic multiplier of this fiscal stimulus would generate another 414,000 jobs in Harvey’s analysis. Dividing 19.6 million needed jobs by 1.4 million created jobs equals 14, which multiplied by $28.6 billion equals $400.4 billion for a 19.6 million jobs program. Other economists also estimate the cost of a program for the federal government as employer of last resort (ELR) would be relatively small, around 1-2% of GDP because it corresponds with huge savings in unemployment insurance in a way that pays people to work rather than to not work. A federally funded ELR program will also help local and state budgets as incomes from employment add to the tax revenue of states and local governments. A job guarantee would also be good for the private sector, as it guarantees that domestic demand never collapses as much as it has in recent years, with chronically low wages and structural unemployment and underemployment. It would also lift incomes for the most vulnerable households, helping to significantly reduce income inequality. Bernie Sanders’ recent presidential campaign called for the creation of 13 million living wage jobs, primarily through $200 billion a year in investments in infrastructure: water system, transportation, seaports, electric grid, low head dams, and broadband. A Green New Deal could invest in infrastructure that reduces the carbon footprint (e.g., energy retrofits, renewable energy), as well as education, child and adult care, home health services and other essential human services.
- Economists predict that we can build a 100 percent renewable energy system at costs comparable to or less than what we would have to spend to continue our reliance on dirty energy. The International Energy Agency estimates that limiting warming to 2° C would require an additional investment of about 1 percent of global GDP per year. (We Have the Power, Environment America and the Frontier Group, http://bit.ly/1qlnotd), which would be $170 billion a year for the US. The former chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made similar estimates.
- Current Sustainability Plan Targets and Strategies (Economy)
- Current pLAn Targets
- Decrease rent-burdened households by 15% by 2035
- Increase cumulative new housing construction by 275K units by 2035
- Ensure 65% of new housing stock sited within 1,500 feet of public transit corridors by 2035
- Increase green jobs in LA by at least 150,000 by 2035
- Increase green investment in LA by $2 billion by 2035
- Eliminate unemployment rate gap between City and LA County by 2035
- TCM Targets
- Achieve near-full employment by 2030
- Increase green investment in LA by $3 billion by 2030
- Current pLAn Strategies
- Develop new-transit Neighborhood Plans
- Rebuild the Affordable Housing Trust Fund with state and local sources
- Implement Build LA and Parallel Design Permitting process
- Preserve existing affordable housing
- Increase minimum wage
- Work with proprietary departments to develop, pilot and prefer “Made in LA” clean technologies
- Create comprehensive green/clean business development plan
- Develop infrastructure to grow green startups into mature businesses
- Create private-sector partnerships for apprenticeships in green industries
- TCM Strategies
- Establish aggressive PPP platform for GOGO/GOCO manufacturing and implementation of green technology & infrastructure
- Launch LA Green Bonds initiative
- Develop LA Green Bank system for low-interest infrastructure loans and PACE financing
- Work with CA State legislature to develop CAETFA administered on-bill financing program for residential/industrial solar and DSM installation activities
- Explore tax and fee options for fossil fuel consumption activities including Societal Cost of Carbon based sales tax adjustment
- Implement air-quality directed shipping dock-fee
- Livability, Health and Air Quality
- In 2001, as Americans traveled 2.8 trillion miles, and more than 42,000 people died in automobile crashes; this equals one person dying every 13 minutes. The number of people who are injured are many more, and the number of people who suffer health effects from the pollution from our vehicles still more than that. Traffic-generated air pollution causes 9 times as many deaths as traffic accidents, according to research in neighboring Canada.
- Regarding crash fatalities and injuries, for many years, the industry argued that it was not reasonable to require seat belts, but ultimately they were required. A NHTSA study found that three-point seat belts reduce fatalities by 45 percent in passenger car crashes and 60 percent in light-truck crashes. Industry could do something about it, and while they said it was too expensive and inconvenient for them to do so, for a time, life, truth, and basic rights not to have to needlessly die in such a manner.
- Air pollution from fossil fuels has been known to be toxic since at least the 1940s, when fossil fuel companies began trying to redirect public concerns (tobacco interests later employed these same PR experts to cast doubt on health effects). Nevertheless, it has been known for decades that the air quality damage from fossil fuels, the health effects alone justify transitioning off of fossil fuels right now, all by itself – without considering any other effects. And such a plain calculus stands solidly on the old, well-known impacts from both air pollution and smoking: increased strokes, asthma, lung disease, and emergency room admissions related to these. More recent medical research has connected air quality to many more diseases.
- Research on the air quality impacts from internal combustion vehicles is now decisive. A very large body of research has concluded in the past few years that the impacts are far-reaching. While the number of strokes, breathing emergencies and lung cancer deaths due to air quality have been the ones tallied in the totals to date, new totals that include the data summarized in this annotated bibliography would like raise the urgency. Doctors are calling for action to reduce exposure to pollution from internal combustion engines, for which they have determined “there is no safe level,” like lead.
- Air pollution has recently been found to prompt inflammation and disease in numerous organs. Air pollution from fossil fuels affects everyone, but children, the unborn, elders, and the economically poor are among the most at risk. The World Health Organization says that 7 million premature deaths are linked to air pollution, annually. The set examined by the Global Burden of Diseases counts 5.5 million early deaths from air pollution in 2013; “air pollution is the fourth highest risk factor for death globally and by far the leading environmental risk factor for disease,” said Prof. Michael Brauer of the U. of British Columbia. This counts air pollution deaths from lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory infections, not the wider set of diseases known to be connected to air pollution today now. The savings just from health costs and early death with the old set of diseases would cover the cost of shifting to renewables worldwide, not to mention the suffering involved, new diseases or other costs, or the benefits of more jobs.
- Traffic is typically the biggest source of urban air pollution, even in places where other sources are large factors. Due to the health impacts, doctor-researchers are now saying “we need to focus on strategies that lower exposure everywhere and all the time.” Small particulate pollution is associated with smaller total cerebral brain volume even in low pollution areas and among otherwise relatively healthy adults. They see changes in brain structure, including covert brain infarcts (a type of silent stroke) that are otherwise indicators of age-related brain atrophy. Such exposure and changes are linked to poorer cognitive function, dementia and other neurological problems, associated with small vessel disease. Air pollution has also been decisively shown to impair cognitive performance and cause mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, in addition to being associated with increased suicide risk and rises in breast cancer, autism, appendicitis cases, and more. Those living or walking near exhaust sources (often lower income) suffer more, but air pollution is sufficiently toxic that even in rural areas where levels are low (e.g., one third of allowed levels in the US), physical effects and early deaths are discernible, per unit (µg/m3) of pollution.
- Robert D. Brook, M.D., of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “While we have learned to live within this haze, air pollution is neither natural nor benign,” he continues, “owing to the ubiquitous and constant nature of exposure, particulate matter ranks as a leading cause (the number one environmental cause) of global mortality.” The remaining air pollution in the US is imposing very high costs, including over 200,000 premature deaths per year. Those numbers are increasing. Further Levels of particular matter exposure common in the US have been associated with significantly faster cognitive decline in studies of people age 50 on, suggesting that “air pollution reduction is a potential means for reducing the future population burden of age-related cognitive decline, and eventually, dementia.” Dr. Bhatia, M.D., M.P.H., of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, explained. Dr. Baccarelli, (Harvard) writes that “it may be proven that the actual totality of the health burden posed by air pollution, already known to be tremendous, may be even greater than ever anticipated.”
- Baccarelli, I. Martinelli, A. Zanobetti, P. Grillo, L.-F. Hou, P. A. Bertazzi, P. M. Mannucci, J. Schwartz. Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution and Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008; 168 (9): 920 DOI: 10.1001/archinte.168.9.920 firstname.lastname@example.org
- D. Brook. Air Pollution: What Is Bad for the Arteries Might Be Bad for the Veins. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2008; 168 (9): 909 DOI:10.1001/archinte.168.9.909
- Lelieveld, J; Evans, J.S.; Fnais, M.; Giannadaki, D.; Pozzer, A. “The Contribution of Outdoor Air Pollution Sources to Premature Mortality on a Global Scale“ Nature, September 2015, Vol. 525. doi: 10.1038/nature15371.
- Romley, John A.; Hackbarth, Andrew; Goldman, Dana P. “Impact of Air Quality on Hospital Spending”
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Air and Radiation “The Benefits and Costs of the Clean Air Act from 1990 to 2020”, March 2011
- Changing Thinking, New Options
- Our standards about what is possible and what we can do change over time. Up until now, the thinking among many has been that there is nothing to do about that, but choices are emerging. New York City government is transitioning half of their fleet to electric vehicles in the next 7 years. The Netherlands is has worked with bus agencies, companies, and manufacturers to execute a 100% transition to electric vehicles in the next 7 years. In the UK, cities such as London, Nottingham, Derby, Birmingham, and Southampton have been granted the power to declare clean air zones and ban highly polluting vehicles from city centers.
- Current Sustainability Plan Targets and Strategies
- Current pLAn Targets – Equity
- Zero unhealthy air pollution days by 2025
- Increase ZEV operations to 25% of total fleet by 2035
- Increase port-related goods transport by ZEV to 25% by 2035
- Current pLAn Strategies – Equity
- Accelerate air quality improvements at the Port of Los Angeles
- Support technology development for zero emissions goods movement
- Support EV infrastructure development
- Green the City fleet
- Implement LA World Airports air quality actions
- Current pLAn Targets – Environmental Justice
- Reduce childhood asthma-related ER visits to less than 8 per 1000 children by 2035
- Ensure all low-income Angelenos live within ½ mile of fresh food by 2035
- Reduce the number of census tracts in the top 10% of CalEnviroScreen 50% by 2035
- Current pLAn Strategies – EJ
- Implement neighborhood air quality monitoring
- Create working group to prioritize and execute local air quality mitigation steps
- Reduce emissions from goods movement with a focus on low-income neighborhoods
- Expand urban agriculture in the City’s federally-designated Promise Zone
- Develop climate-related workforce and business creation solutions
- Expand Community Safety Partnerships (CSP) to improve public health by ensuring safe passage for all pedestrians
- Current pLAn Targets – Urban Ecosystem
- Increase public park access
- Increase urban agriculture by 50% (2013 baseline) by 2035
- Current pLAn Strategies – Urban Ecosystem
- LA River revitalization program
- Expand the 50 Parks LA Initiative
- Provide access to land at LA City facilities for urban agriculture (community garden)
- Expand urban agriculture in the City’s federally designated Promise Zone
- Encourage urban farming through City’s compost giveaway and distribution program and a pilot hydroponics/aquaponics program
- Current pLAn Targets – Livable Neighborhoods
- Increase LA’s walk score to 75 by 2025
- Implement Vision Zero policy to reduce traffic fatalities
- Current pLAn Strategies – Livable Neighborhoods
- Support the DOT Strategic Plan to help address pedestrian/bike safety
- Increased community events
- Catalyze volunteer opportunities for increased street vibrancy and neighborhood greening
- Support Good Food Purchase Program to help institutions source local and sustainable foods
- Why We Can’t Wait
- In some areas a wait and see approach is the way to go. In the case of climate change, we have already waited too long. Rising seas are flooding coastal areas and quite literally swallowing entire islands. Some populations of animals have started to die out. The climate crisis also has real and dangerous impacts on public health.
- Even a rise of a degree or two makes a major difference. Consider the farms that depend on reliable seasons and predictable, consistent temperatures to grow specific crops in specific regions. Or the impact the difference between 0 and 1 degrees Celsius (or 32 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit) has on water.
- For example, in just the last decade, 2 trillion tons of ice from the Greenland ice sheet has made its way into the Atlantic Ocean as fresh water, accelerating sea-level rise – a dire concern for the 39 percent of the US population that lives in counties directly on the coast.
- The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide nearly doubled from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. Moreover, both the duration of tropical cyclones and their strongest wind speeds have increased by about 50 percent over the past 50 years. People in the Philippines are still recovering from the devastation of Haiyan, years ago. For the NE Pacific basin, climate scientists are projecting increasing wind intensities and almost a 500 percent increase in [Category 4 and 5 hurricane] days by the late 21st century, and already, we are seeing what would be Category 7 hurricanes if the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind scale were a continuous scale, with no upper bound. Such storms are likely to become more frequent. We are beginning to see so-called “1000 year” floods, storms, and other record events with regularity. People are being pushed from their homelands due to drought and destruction. Right here in the United States, the Biloxi-
- Chitimacha-Choctaw Tribe became the first federally recognized climate migrants due to the subsidence of their land due to oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico (in Jan 2016). Most of all, we are creating risk for the next generations, when we should be creating a better world and fostering life and flourishing for all.
- We are on track to see surface temperatures on Earth warm by more than 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of this century if we keep burning fossil fuels without making any real efforts to cut emissions. Put as plainly as possible, this would transform the planet in ways that undermine its capacity to support a large and thriving human population.
- Human activities, such as burning coal and oil burning for electricity, industry, and transportation, have released large amounts of carbon dioxide (in particular), methane, and other greenhouse gases to Earth’s atmosphere, causing our planet to warm. These gases trap the sun’s energy as heat. So as we continue to dump more of them into the atmosphere, things keep getting hotter and hotter.
- The atmosphere and the planet’s ability to process carbon is finite, somewhat like a bathtub. We have to turn off the spigot to a rate less than what the tub can drain out. Twenty percent of the CO2 we emit today will still be in the atmosphere, providing excess warming to the planet, over 1000 years from now. Even if we stopped emitting carbon pollution entirely today, our world would continue to warm for a long time; a lot of it stays up there trapping heat for 200 years.
- According to NASA, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today are higher than they have been at any time in the past 400,000 years. Whereas the CO2 for all of human development has been 280 parts per million (ppm) until, the last 200 years, it is now permanently (for the foreseeable future, or until trees and reformed agriculture and soil management — no till – practices can help us absorb more (over 400 ppm).
- NASA warns: “If fossil-fuel burning continues at a business-as-usual rate, such that humanity exhausts the reserves over the next few centuries, CO2 will continue to rise to levels of order of 1500 ppm,” “The atmosphere would then not return to pre-industrial levels even tens of thousands of years into the future.”
- The further we travel down the road toward certain climate outcomes, the fewer options we will have to correct our course. Also, the rate of emissions year after year becomes steeper.
- Today, we can still mitigate the worst outcomes of the climate crisis by transitioning from dirty, dangerous fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. But the longer we wait to fully embrace the already underway green energy revolution, the more severe the impacts we will have to deal with.
- Beyond the obvious moral concerns of these stakes, the climate crisis carries enormous financial costs – costs that only rise as natural systems are further disrupted by warming and the effects of climate change become ever-more severe. We are already paying for climate change, of course, as extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heat waves, and hurricanes exact enormous damage and climate-related forest fires devastate massive swaths of area, causing billions in damages. But what we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the melting iceberg. The exact cost of inaction on climate is difficult to calculate for many reasons; however, banking giant Citigroup estimated in 2015 that climate inaction could cost up to $44 trillion by 2060, while the Brookings Institution suggested that unmitigated climate change could shrink the global GDP by more than 20 percent by 2100.
- There is a big difference with the effects of 1.5 vs. 2 C
- There is a big difference with the effects of 1.5 vs. 2 C. See the late 2015/early 2016 update on the next page, though interacting effects are not accounted for as much as we may need. For example, this latest research from Nature underscores that we do in the next decade or two will determine whether many coastal cities worldwide are still viable by the end of this century. Whenever anyone says, climate change is already happening or going to happen, keep in mind that deep pollution cuts mean vastly lower sea levels in 2100, hundreds of millions fewer people displaced every year. Most recently (in 2014) the IPCC said that 2 m of sea level rise could occur this century and NASA scientists and others have said that over 3 m of SLR by 2100 is possible.
- We could greatly slow climate change by getting off fossil fuels now, as scientists advise. Fully arresting climate change and stabilizing ice melt in Antarctica, as well as Greenland and the Arctic would require returning global temperatures to that of the 1970s, said ice scientist Eric Rignot. If we think 2C is an okay target, that will ultimately submerge many cities, including New York, London, Rio de Janeiro, Cairo, Calcutta, Jakarta and Shanghai. At 2C, 20% of the world’s population will eventually have to migrate away from coasts swamped by rising oceans given that temperature is enough to melt polar ice and produce 25 metres of sea level rise over the next 2,000 years or so, remaining there for more than 10,000 years – twice as long as human history. If today’s burning of coal, oil and gas is not curbed, the sea would rise by 50m, completely changing the map of the world.
- Other permanent damage to species and the oceans is occurring at the same time. Increasing carbon in the atmosphere from burning/combustion has already made the ocean 30% more acidic (scale is like the Richter scale), which impedes shell formation and also affects phytoplankton, the base of the oceanic food web. Meanwhile, biologists say half of all species could be extinct by end of century due to the change we are causing with our systems that pursue profit and individual righteousness over the common good, protection of common resources and communal well-being.
- The carbon pollution we are putting in the atmosphere stays there near permanently from the perspective of our generation
- Climate change due to increases in CO2 concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop, and 20% of the global-warming pollution we emit will still be there in 20,000 years. The dignity of life must be understood in terms of generations; we owe a right to life to current and future children and generations.
- We lock in warming every time we produce and put into use a new fossil-fuel powered vehicle or plant. In 2011, the International Energy Agency and economist Fatih Birol published analysis on the life cycle of our investments and how they “lock in” additional years of fossil fuel emissions the more we keep producing petrol/gas and diesel-powered vehicles (20 year life), power plants (40 year assumed life), and more. We know that many of these are operated much longer, and those who buy them have the incentive to use them as long as possible, to return their investment. The IEA said if we continue to build fossil fuel cars and plants as we have, by 2017 we would have built enough to bring us over 2 C if operated for their full intended life cycle (i.e., without unnecessary waste or stranded assets). This made the imperative even clearer to make a rapid shift.
- In sum, What’s the problem? Why act quickly?
- So in sum, What’s the problem? Why act quickly? As Mark Jacobson of Stanford University says:
- Fossil-fuel + biofuel air pollution cause 5-7 million premature air pollution deaths/year worldwide. This costs $20-25 trillion/year already, not to mention the human loss and suffering.
- Global warming due to world emissions will cost ~$25-30 trillion/year by 2050.
- Increasing fossil energy use increases energy pricesà economic, social, political instability
- Drastic problems require immediate solutions.
- UNEP says we have just three years to limit turn emissions onto a sharp, long-term decline, which is also why former UNFCCC Chair Christiana Figueres and associates are pursuing Mission 2020. In their report on the emissions gap, head of UNEP Erik Solheim and Chief Scientist Jacqueline McGlade wrote:
- We must take urgent action. If we don’t, we will mourn the loss of biodiversity and natural resources. We will regret the economic fallout. Most of all, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver…We hope this will be a wake-up call…
- Christiana Figueres said in January 2017: “Right now, 60 million people are displaced worldwide, the highest ever seen in recorded history.” And “we will be seeing 100-300 million displaced in their own area or outside and that will be difficult if not impossible to manage” if we don’t turn around now, with climate change and our use of fossil fuels, Figueres said. Further, we’ll be “condemning the 1 billion still in extreme poverty to perpetual, extreme poverty. The impacts of climate change will grow exponentially both in intensity and in frequency, and that requires investing very scarce resources into rebuilding very basic, scarce infrastructure that then won’t get to devote that to health, education, and well-being.”
- A rapid shift of fossil fuels is absolutely desirable, she said. “Not only would we avert the worst impacts of climate, we would be able to give energy access to 1.3 billion around the world mostly in extreme poverty, improve health worldwide especially in cities, increase food security and create many new jobs.”
- “This is a moral responsibility that we all share,” she said. “That moral responsibility, how are we going to ensure that it is achieved before it is too late for the most vulnerable?” We need to align our moral compass…we need to be clear that fossil fuels kill.” In contrast, we know that renewable energy brings life, health and employment opportunities, though change is never easy or automatic. Nevertheless, we shouldn’t make it more difficult than it has to be by caving to these special interests; “only 3 to 5 percent overall is invested in fossil fuels” she said, noting that we can make the transition.
- The necessary shift is completely possible
- The cost of wind and solar is now comparable to fossil fuels on a utility scale, and wind and solar is much cheaper when health and other costs are included. Moreover, solar and wind potential are plentiful. Some states can produce half or more of their electricity from solar and existing rooftops alone. The majority can produce about a third of the energy they need this way, and with batteries or other economical storage, offer grid stability at the same time.
- Advancing Equity in the Process
- With the climate crisis brewing, California and the LA region stand poised for an energy revolution and massive reworking of our public infrastructure. In addition to our social infrastructure, as stake is whether we will generate the high-quality employment and access to a clean environment that has long been a key part of the California and SoCal Dream.
- To build on our significant progress, we need a bigger and broader movement concerned with both economic and environmental equity and collaboration with business, civic, and agency leaders who support action. To do this, we need the environmental justice and labor movements to model the sort of collaborative unity that creates broad and ongoing political support for a more sustainable and equitable California. Hence, our plan should help
- clarify the policy framework that is needed to implement and support such a social contract
- build a social contract for the transition to a low-carbon economy
- build agreement among political actors about goals and strategies
- Toward this end, the following steps should be considered:
- Invest in green business and the common good by providing grants and loans to grow green businesses and cooperatives, with an emphasis on small, locally-based companies that keep the wealth created by local labor circulating in the community rather than being drained off to enrich absentee investors, the .01%.
- Create a Commission for Economic Democracy to provide publicity, training, education, and direct financing for cooperative development and for democratic reforms to make government agencies, private associations, and business enterprises more participatory. We will strengthen democracy by participatory budgeting and institutions that encourage local initiative and democratic decision-making
- Establish a Renewable Energy Administration. In 1935, FDR launched the hugely successful Rural Electrification Administration launched in 1935, which brought electrical power to rural America, 95 per cent of which had no power. Emulated by many other countries, this initiative provided technical support, financing, and coordination to more than 900 municipal cooperatives, many of which still exist.
- End unemployment in America once and for all by guaranteeing a job at a living wage for every American willing and able to work. The government should offer employment of last resort in jobs meeting community-identified needs in the public and non-profit sectors to take up any slack in private for-profit sector employment. Jobs will be in sustainable energy and energy efficiency retrofitting, mass transit and “complete streets” that promote safe bike and pedestrian traffic, regional food systems based on sustainable organic agriculture, and clean manufacturing; infrastructure; and public services (education, youth programs, child care, senior care). Local communities will use a process of broad stakeholder input and democratic decision making to fairly design and implement generative programs.
- Labor and environmental justice leaders and organizations developed many of the suggestions below, which were summarized in Climate Policy Equity Framework: A New Social Contract for Low-Carbon Transition by Center for Labor Research and Education, by the Donald Vial Center on Employment in the Green Economy. We thank all who were involved. Suggestions included:
- Require labor standards on construction projects that the government funds, incentivizes, or mandates to meet GHG reduction targets, including prevailing wage, benefit, and apprenticeship standards. These are crucial mechanisms for ensuring that low-carbon economic development results in high-quality, family-supporting careers. Labor standards are often linked with targeted hire provisions to broaden access to career-track jobs for disadvantaged workers. A number of vehicles exist for attaching labor standards to GHG reduction measures that involve construction work.
- Energy Efficiency and Distributed Generation Incentive Programs: Implement labor standards for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other low-carbon construction projects subsidized by public investment and utility ratepayer incentive programs.
- Require a Community Workforce Agreement (CWA), or similar arrangements that include labor standards and targeted/local hire provisions, on fully subsidized public and ratepayer investments in low-carbon sectors.
- Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Require a CWA on RPS-eligible, utility-scale renewables in power purchase contracts. Alternatively, give preference in the PPA selection process to projects with a multi-craft CWA.
- Low-Income Weatherization Programs: Require a wage floor and build career ladders for low-income energy efficiency retrofit programs funded by utilities and the GGRF.
- Require labor standards on construction projects that the government funds, incentivizes, or mandates to meet GHG reduction targets, including prevailing wage, benefit, and apprenticeship standards. These are crucial mechanisms for ensuring that low-carbon economic development results in high-quality, family-supporting careers. Labor standards are often linked with targeted hire provisions to broaden access to career-track jobs for disadvantaged workers. A number of vehicles exist for attaching labor standards to GHG reduction measures that involve construction work.
- Invest in GHG-reducing public works projects that reach low-income people in your area. Prioritizing low-carbon investments in the public sector (i.e., public buildings and public infrastructure projects) offers a variety of equity benefits by providing a vehicle for Community Workforce Agreements and ensuring direct investment in disadvantaged communities, while meeting GHG reduction goals.
- Community Solar Programs: Expand community solar programs that provide distributed solar to multiple households (including pass-through benefits to renters), prioritize participation from disadvantaged households and siting in disadvantage areas, and require the incorporation of Community Workforce Agreements.
- Municipal, university, school, and hospital (MUSH) Sector Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Investments: Create a comprehensive deep retrofit program for the MUSH sector and multifamily affordable housing markets that incorporates a Community Workforce Agreement and is funded by existing ratepayer, GGRF, and Prop. 39 funds.
- Green Zones: Support comprehensive GHG reduction and community resilience investments in the most disadvantaged communities, devised through a multi-stakeholder, community engagement process that includes both environmental justice and labor organizations.
- Ensure equitable distribution of ratepayer and public incentive funds for private low-carbon investments. Equity can be advanced by ensuring that programs to encourage adoption of solar, electric vehicle, and other low-carbon technologies do not require participants to be homeowners, have disposable savings, or have access to credit in order to benefit from government incentives. To the extent possible, decisionmakers should design programs to incentivize low-carbon investments that are delinked from ownership of individual assets like homes or vehicles.
- Support local solar installer training and certification programs, such as that run by Homeboy Industries, to support returning citizens.
- Ensure just transitions for workers and communities affected by the decline of GHG-emitting industries. Identify a lead agency and a funding source and initiate an inclusive planning process to mitigate transition losses for workers and communities potentially impacted by industrial decline due to impending transitions off of fossil fuels and associated technologies.
- Ensure that cap and trade does not exacerbate pollution hotspots in disadvantaged communities and amend the program where necessary. Ongoing concerns about the possible adverse impact of the cap-and-trade system on existing environmental justice hotspots requires developing robust evaluation and collecting the data to monitor exposure, with a trigger to respond if cap and trade exacerbates pollution hotspots, particularly in disadvantaged communities. Addressing these issues requires:
- Incorporation of co-pollutant emissions into CARB’s GHG Emissions Mapping Tool.
- Public reporting of cap-and-trade transactions by facility.
- Restrictions on facility-level trading and offset purchases at facilities in prioritized disadvantaged communities when necessary.
- Ensure participation from labor and EJ representatives in all climate policy arenas. California can build on a strong track record of public participation by filling in the following gaps and incorporating the multiple equity criteria in its public processes.
- Inclusion of Both Labor and EJ Voices in Bodies Responsible for Implementing Transition/Climate Policy.
- Also fill gaps in labor and EJ representation on state bodies (such as CARB, CPUC, and CEC) tasked with decision-making and implementation related to AB 32 and other climate legislation. Participatory Planning for the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375): Implement a statewide participatory planning framework that clarifies a standard process for developing a Sustainable Community Strategy (SCS) to reduce the carbon footprint of urban development as mandated in SB 375.
- Monitor equity performance across transition/climate policies and programs.
- Collect consistent, reliable, and publicly available data to monitor performance on key equity indicators, as “what gets measured gets managed.”
- Track and monitor whether equity goals have been reached, to identify areas where climate policy should be improved to advance equity, and to hold public bodies accountable for progress on equity in GHG reduction measures.
- What Can You or I do?
- The most important thing you can do is leverage your voice and ensure you are being heard and your various communities’ voices are being heard in the transition that is upon us. We are all responsible for demanding and creating the public future we want to see, not leaving this to those with the most money and influence to create what is preferable and comfortable for them. Also, we can spend years, even decades, improving our houses or church buildings, but we can go much further together, by cleaning up our electricity at the source, for all — thousands, and tens and hundreds of thousands more structures than just our own.
- Anything we can do as individuals to alter our collective trajectory and get on the right path is a responsible area to act. Use your creativity and contribute to our collective plan and path forward. That said, individual action is not without consequence. Everything counts. Further, what you do likely has credibility with and serves as a model to others.
- As individuals we can:
- Telecommute and speak remotely instead of flying on an airplane. We can encourage our colleagues to meet and accomplish joint work remotely as well, and participate in development of organizational policies to support this.
- Electrify everything by eliminating gas in your home and gasoline/ diesel in your car.
- Use electric heat pumps for air and water heating instead of gas heaters
- Use an electric induction cooktop stove instead of a gas stove.
- Use an electric dryer instead of a gas dryer.
- Put solar on your roof
- Use batteries to store some of your solar electricity. Try to draw from the grid mainly at night, to help even out demand/reduce the need for large generating facilities)
- Replace your gasoline or diesel car with an electric car.
- Weatherize your home by sealing leaks and adding insulation.
- Switch to LED light bulbs wherever possible.
- Encourage elected officials to support clean, renewable energy and efficiency. Run for office yourself!
- Vote for policy makers who support these goals.
- Speak to the benefits of transitioning:
- Switching our electricity to wind, water and solar reduces power demand by around 40% because 1) such electricity is more efficient than combustion, 2) this eliminates the energy needed to mine, transport, and/or process fossil fuels, uranium, and biofuels, and, 3) WWS end-use efficiency exceeds business-as-usual end-use efficiency.
- Converting to renewables creates millions more jobs in the US than will be lost.
- Electricity will not be more expensive
- Many lives will be saved, including a minimum of ~65,000 air pollution premature deaths annually in the United States, and many more if new sets of diseases associated with fossil fuel pollution (particulate matter, nitrous oxides, etc.) are included.
- Worldwide, the savings from the above (again, just looking at the old set of diseases – asthma, stroke, etc — will save 5-7 million lives and ~$23 trillion/yr in 2050 health costs in 2013 dollars. The health cost savings translates to 12.8 ¢/kWh.
- Shifting off fossil fuels will save far more than we can count or realize today. Today’s estimate is that getting off fossil fuels will save at least ~$29 trillion/yr in 2050 climate costs in 2013 dollars, which translates to 15.8 ¢/kWh in addition to the health costs.
- Another way to look at it is that transitioning will save each person ~$85yr in fuel costs, ~2,600yr in air-pollution-damage cost, and ~$3,200/yr in climate cost.
- Transitioning will require only 0.22% of the 139-country land area for new footprint on the ground, mostly for non-rooftop solar, and 0.92% of the land area for spacing between onshore wind turbines. The latter land can be used for multiple purposes and will supplement the income of farmers and ranchers.
- Transitioning will reduce international conflict over energy because the roadmaps will make each country will largely energy independent.
- Transitioning will increase access to distributed energy, reducing energy poverty for 4 billion people worldwide.
- Transitioning will reduce risk of large-scale system disruption caused by power outages or terrorism because much of the world power supply will be decentralized.
- Transitioning should avoid global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 F) since 1870, if we do this now.
- Finally, converting to 100% WWS is technically and economically feasible. The main barriers are social and political (interests of those who have the most).
- Papers and spreadsheets summarizing the 50-state and 139-country roadmaps:
- Paper on keeping the grid reliable with 100% WWS: http://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/CONUSGridIntegration.pdf. Infographic maps for the 50-state and 139-country roadmaps: www.thesolutionsproject.org and 100.org
- The points in the remainder of this document are from Mike Berners-Lee.
- Easy Wins
- The following might be considered “easy wins” by some. Remember that our time is best spent changing the system, making it more efficient and “easier to do good”/use less carbon for everyone. This means 1) cleaning up our electricity system, 2) electrifying everything, and 3) everything else.
- Save Water and Energy
- Eliminate bottled water. Bottled water is more than 1,000 times more carbon intensive than tap water. The bulk of the emissions come from packaging and transport.
- Make sure you have an aerated showerhead, which reduces energy use by about half.
- Insulate. Putting 270 mm (10-inch) attic insulation in homes that haven’t got any $105 net profit per ton saved. $2.80 for every $1 invested. Upgrading attic insulation to 270 mm (10 inches) where 50 mm (2 inches) currently exists $7.5 per ton.
- Save Trees…
- Get rid of junk mail in less than 30 seconds at www.directmail.com/mail_preference/. In the US, citizens receive an average of 41 lbs of junk mail per year and 44% of this ends up in landfill.
- Deforestation (largely filling developed countries’ ag demand) and northern/western industrial agriculture practices play a big role in GHG production. Be aware of the dynamic and how you contribute to demand (e.g., Starbucks continues to be a palm oil hold-out, as of this writing).
- Consider your online life and the time you spend, using more GHG than you think…
- Opt out of email direct marketing too: https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/optoutemps.php
- Getting your news online, which reduces your impact by half (only half, after production of the computer, running of your network, and the electricity consumed by all the hubs and servers around the world that support the websites you browse.
- Landlines offer carbon savings because it takes about one-third of the power to transmit a call over a fixed landline network than it does when both callers are on a cell phone. A one minute on a cell phone is about the same CO2 as an apple, most of a banana, or a very large gulp of beer. Three minutes by phone is similar to the impact of sending a letter on recycled paper by post (57 g of carbon).
- The footprint of the energy required to transmit your calls across the network is about three times all of this put together, a best estimate of 94 kg (207 lbs.) CO2e over the life of the phone, or 47 kg/yr. Nearly half the world population has a cell phone. On this basis, cell phone calls account for about 125 million tons CO2e, which is just over one-quarter of a percent of global emissions. If you want to reduce the footprint of your communication habits, texting is a much lower-carbon option.
- Data Centers: According to IT advisory company Gartner, the world’s data centers currently account for one-quarter of the energy consumed around the world by the information and communication technology sector. That’s around two-thirds as much as all the computers and monitors in the world. On current growth trends, however, the power draw of data centers is set to at least double over the coming decade to over 1% of total emissions. Meanwhile 1% is about the proportion of the U.K.’s footprint accounted for by printing and paper-based publishing. The point is that digital information may not be lower-carbon than the paper-based world of 20 years ago. Not only is global data growing incredibly fast, but so is our expectation that we can interrogate it or process purchases at a moment’s notice.
- What we eat
- Bread is half the GHG production of rice. Just over half the emissions of a loaf of bread come from the actual growing of the ingredients. About 1/6th is the baking. Transport is typically 1/7th, and the supermarket itself adds about 1/9th. The bag is a very small consideration and well worth it to keep the bread fresh for longer, to reduce waste. Bread is 1/50th as energy intensive as beef, per calorie supplied.
- Los Angeles could be it’s own vegetable basket . Consider transportation and energy production when consuming vegetables (locally grown, in season are best). For more info on seasonal foods, see: http://www.sustainabletable.org/seasonalfoodguide/ http://www.epicurious.com/archive/seasonalcooking/farmtotable/seasonalingredientmap
- Local vs. flown in. If you live in New York and your entire diet were as carbon intensive as long-haul asparagus, your food footprint alone would be more than the entire footprint of the average North American. When produce is being moved, a mile by air has more than 100 times the climate impact of a mile by sea. This is because it takes a lot of energy to keep a plane in the air—and also because engine emissions tend to do more damage at high altitude than they do at ground level. Asparagus grown in season in your own country cuts out a staggering 97% of the footprint. Favor local veggies or those nearer by. At the end of local seasons there are periods when covering the vegetables or a small amount of heating makes the crop viable.
- Greenhouses in winter are very carbon intensive. It is best to stick with in season vegetables or canned. If you do want to buy fresh tomatoes outside the local growing season, it is almost certainly preferable to buy them from Mexico, California, or another warmer place rather than choose local versions produced in heated greenhouses.
- Food shipped via maritime transport is less energy intensive. Ships can carry food around the world around 100 times more efficiently than planes; they account for less than 1% of the chain’s total footprint. Land-locked or otherwise truck-dependent states and countries depend more on fossil fuels.
- Meat, Eggs, and Dairy
- Food from animals turns out to be more carbon intensive than food from plants, simply because animals are inefficient devices for producing food. They eat plants and then spend their lives using energy by walking around, keeping warm, etc. It is far more efficient for people to eat plants directly. Beef and lamb are doubly high in carbon because they are belching ruminants. Chicken is a bit better because they live less long and thus less energy goes into their feed. Dairy has all the same problems of ruminant meat production, so there is little point in switching from beef to cheese. A kilo (2.2 pounds) of cheese comes in at around 13 kg CO2e, compared with around 17 kg for beef. Milk is 1.3 kg per liter.
- About nine-tenths of this footprint comes from the beef farming itself. Using animals to produce food tends to be inefficient compared with eating crops, and cows have the added problem that they ruminate, producing enough methane to roughly double the climate change impact of farming them.
- Less widely discussed than the methane are the nitrous oxide emissions, which account for about 30% of the footprint of beef farming. This gas is released when nitrogen fertilizer is applied to grass and other fodder crops and when the grass is silaged. Last, there is the CO2 itself, at around one-fifth of the farming footprint from the tractors, other farming machinery, and energy required to make fertilizer.
- Around 85% of the milk’s footprint is generated on the farm, but transport, packaging, and refrigeration also play their part. Because milk is heavy, keeping it local (and not trucking it hundreds of miles to and from distribution centers) is a good idea.
- Going vegetarian
- Generally, using animals to produce food tends to be inefficient compared with eating crops. Going vegetarian can greatly reduce your land use and carbon footprint; however, it wouldn’t reduce your impact if you simply swapped cheese for meat (nor save you money nor make you healthier). Think of cheese as a meat and therefore a treat. Also consider transportation and energy. (See Vegetables)
- Most of the impact of egg production comes from the farming itself (in this case the rearing of birds and growing of their feed) rather than the packaging or transport. Chickens don’t ruminate, so methane isn’t much of a problem. But nitrous oxide is the main contributor to the footprint of the final product. From the perspective of climate change—organic eggs come out about 25% worse than those from battery farms. If you care about animal welfare as well as climate change, buying fewer eggs but making them organic might be a sensible compromise.
- Paper and cardboard are often more carbon intensive than plastic packaging, mainly because making paper is so energy intensive but also because it emits methane if it ends up in landfill.
- Plastic bags that preserve food or that weigh less in shipping than glass can save fossil fuels. As packaging plastic is environmentally nasty as either landfill or litter because it hangs around for so long, but it is typically not quite as energy intensive to produce as card packaging and has the advantage, from a purely carbon perspective, that when you put it in landfill, you are just sending those hydrocarbons back into the ground where they came from for long-term storage. In the days when supermarkets routinely gave out disposable plastic bags, they accounted for around one-thousandth of the footprint of a typical shopping trip. Biodegradable plastic can be a well-intentioned nightmare, clogging up recycling processes, with the potential to ruin a whole batch, and in landfill it rots, emitting methane.
- Glass is energy intensive to make (or recycle), and its weight adds to the transport footprint. Cans of beer are better than bottles, as are cartons or boxes of wine. Incidentally, bottles are absolutely no better for storing wine than the more climate-friendly alternatives.
- Steel and aluminum are carbon-intensive stuff, but you don’t need a great weight of them, and they’re easy to recycle. It takes only about one-tenth of the energy to recycle aluminum compared with extracting it from ore in the ground.
- Food waste
- In the developed world we are thought to waste about one-quarter of the edible food we buy. This figure depends partly on your definition of what was edible in the first place. Do you think of the potato skin as just packaging, or do you think of it as the tastiest and most nutritious bit? In any case, a huge and expensive proportion of our food gets left on plates, goes bad in the fridge, isn’t scraped out of the pan properly or isn’t picked off the carcass. It is slightly better to compost waste food than to throw it into landfill, but the carbon footprint of that food has still been needlessly incurred.
- Food storage/refrigeration
- Fridges use electricity, and it takes energy to make them in the first place. On top of that is the problem that traditionally they have relied on the use of refrigerant gases that have a global warming potential several thousand times that of CO2. This stuff tends to leak out of large commercial fridges, which need topping up regularly. At Booths, this leakage from within the stores and warehouse accounted for around 3% of the total footprint. And refrigeration accounts for about half of all electricity usage in stores. When all considerations are taken into account, refrigeration probably accounts for around 6% of the footprint of supermarket food. New techniques may allow this footprint to drop dramatically. In the meantime save and use leftovers and check what is in your fridge and cupboards. Eradicating waste is worth a 25% savings for the average shopper. Especially reduce meat and dairy.
- For a typical bottle, just over a third of the footprint comes from the production of the wine itself. By buying wine boxes or cartons, you can reduce the footprint of the packaging by a factor of about five and reduce the weight, so transport emissions can also be slashed by one-third, without loss of quality.
- Fertilizer manufacture
- Depending on the efficiency of the factory, making 1 ton of fertilizer creates between 1 and 4 tons CO2e. When the fertilizer is actually applied, between 1 and 5% of the nitrogen it contains is released as nitrous oxide, which is around 300 times more potent than CO2. This adds between 1.7 and 8.3 tons CO2e to the total footprint, depending on a variety of factors. The science: all plants contain nitrogen, so if you’re growing a crop, it has to be replaced into the soil somehow or it will eventually run out. Nitrogen fertilizer is one way of doing this. Manure is another. Up to a point there can be big benefits. For some crops in some situations, the amount of produce can even be proportional to the amount of nitrogen that is used. However, there is a cut-off point after which applying more does nothing at all to the yield, or even decreases it. Timing matters, too. It is inefficient to apply fertilizer before a seed has had a chance to develop into a rapidly growing plant. https://www.sciencenews.org/article/fertilizer-produces-far-more-greenhouse-gas-expected, http://www.nature.com/news/one-third-of-our-greenhouse-gas-emissions-come-from-agriculture-1.11708, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167880909001297,
- California is no stranger to droughts. Yet another reason to conserve freshwater is that droughts are on the rise worldwide with climate change, and desalination is notoriously energy intensive. Supplying all domestic water by seawater desalination would increase the United States’ energy consumption by around 10%, about the amount of energy used by domestic refrigerators. Energy is the largest single variable cost for a desalination plant, varying from one-third to more than one-half the cost of produced water. Because of its high energy use, desalination creates or increases the water supplier’s exposure to energy price variability.
- Emissions per liter vary hugely depending on the efficiency of the process and the carbon intensity of the electricity used. (A new plant in Sydney is also powered by coal.) Spain doubled its desalination between 2000 and 2004. At the low-carbon end, Seawater Greenhouse claims to have developed a technique for using solar heat to desalinate water for greenhouse-cultivated crops in arid regions. In theory the desalination itself is just about carbon neutral. Apart from greenhouse gases, another nasty by-product of desalination is the brine concentrate that is returned to the sea, increasing the salinity and messing up marine ecosystems.
- It takes so much more energy to make a brand-new aluminum can or plastic bottle than it does to make a new one from an old one, recycling is important. When you are standing with 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of something in your hand, if that is aluminum, it is most important that you recycle it. The next most important per kilo are textiles. Kitchen waste is a key area because of the large amount of methane it produces when it rots underground.
- The wealthy have more appliances, both within and across countries. Refrigerators are one of the most energy intensive and the most important. In the US, many are twice the size of European versions. In India, refrigerator penetration is 21% in 2015, vs. a global average of 85%, despite the hot climate (AC is 3% in India vs 60% globally) and washing machines 8% vs. 70% globally. India’s consumer spending is set to double by 2020 and average daily caloric intake is set to rise after staying flat or even declining in rural areas over previous decades.
- Dishwasher – Heating the water is the largest impact. Running a dishwasher twice a week on the economy setting comes to 80 kg (176 lbs.) per year, equivalent to a 110-mile drive in an average car. A dishwasher simultaneously helps the planet, your health, and your lifestyle. When you buy one, choose a make that will last, maintain it, try to always run it full, use the economy setting when possible, and run it in the middle of the night if you can, because the electricity is less carbon intensive then.
- Bathroom, showers, toilet and bathing
- Showers where the hot water comes from gas will work out as using less energy than a bath though, unless bath water is shared. In winter you can reclaim about half the heat from bath water simply by leaving the plug in until it goes cold. Toilet paper is three-quarters of a percent of the 10-ton life, according to Berners-Lee, who reflected that seems high for such a simple and brief part of our lives, and a sense of economy may be in order.
- Clothes washing
- For a typical 40°C (104°F) wash nearly three-quarters of the carbon footprint comes from the drying rather than the washing. The other quarter is caused by the supply chain of the fuel: getting it out of the ground, flaring off the gas, shipping it around the world, refining it, and getting it to the pump.
- The average U.K. person has a clothing footprint closer to 225 kg (496 lbs.) per year, or more than 400 kg (882 lbs.) including laundry. The Aral Sea is drying up partly because of cotton plantations in its catchment and the clothing and textiles industry produces toxins that find their way into water supplies. Some tips for keeping the total impact of your clothing to a minimum:
- Buy second-hand.
- Repair things rather than throwing them out.
- Donate or recycle clothing rather than putting it in the trash.
- Buy stuff that is easy to wash and dry.
- Buy stuff that is built to last.
- Wear it and use it until it falls apart, or pass it on.
- Favor synthetic fibers over natural ones.
- In the typical shoe about half of the carbon footprint is due to materials, around one- quarter is due to energy used in shoe manufacture, 15% is transport, 5% the shoe box, 5% other.
- How we travel
- As a rule of thumb, about half of the carbon impact of car travel comes out of the exhaust pipe itself. A few percent come from the processes of extracting, shipping, refining, and distributing the fuel. The rest, typically 40% of the footprint, is associated with the manufacture and maintenance of the car. Big, expensive new cars have more of their embodied emissions attributable to each mile of driving. But it’s not just what model you drive that matters.
- A congested drive can cause three times the emissions of the same drive on a clear road. Driving in a traffic jam very roughly doubles your fuel consumption per mile. However, that’s only half of the story. Your presence on the road makes a lot of other people line up just a little bit longer. In fact, the extra emissions you force everyone else to produce (when you add them all together) is about equal to the extra emissions that you produce yourself as a result of having to line up instead of being able to drive straight through. In other words, if your journey is congested, by choosing to do it you cause about three times more emissions than you might expect. The queuing theory logic also works for the time that gets wasted, which is where the biggest public costs come in, as currently calculated (air pollution is underestimated). In other words, the hassle and anguish that you experience is equal to the hassle and anguish that you inflict. So when deciding whether to drive through a busy area at rush hour, picture your own pain and double it. All of this adds to the case for traveling by bike, bus, train, foot, or ride share wherever possible. It’s also a useful reminder that all motorists should treat cyclists with the respect they deserve for helping to cut everybody else’s journey time.
- Walking, cycling, and staying home are best. Air travel and SUVs are the worst.
- For all the road vehicles, the exhaust-pipe emissions make up about half of the footprint. About one-third lies in the manufacture and maintenance of the vehicle itself, and the remaining one-sixth is the supply chain of the fuel. Emissions of the car per passenger mile are often ignored or underestimated. Whatever the precise difference (and it will of course vary widely depending on the particular vehicles), the train also lets you get some work done, read a book, or sleep instead of arriving at the other end stressed and frazzled. Cars are typically more efficient with multiple passengers.
- Lighter and slower transport is more efficient (including buses over trains)
- A mile and a half journey on light rail is equivalent to a cup of milk. Urban underground can be very low-carbon, per passenger mile, despite stopping often mainly because people are packed in so tightly. Other reasons are relatively slow travel, all-electric, and lighter trains.
- One reason that the bus beats the train is that it travels more slowly, which is significant because the energy needed to overcome air resistance goes with the square of the speed. Another reason is that although a bus or coach is heavy, the weight per passenger is much less than it is for a train.
- Light rail and train travel avoids creating traffic and is better than air travel. Eighteen miles on a train is equal to one cheeseburger. The weight of the train per passenger seat is around twice that of an average car (assuming each seat is filled in each), due to train travel, which is already over 100 times safer than driving, being over-engineered for safety (R. Kemp). As a result, twice as much energy is required to get our trains moving every time they leave a station as for other vehicles.
- Considerable emissions are involved in growing of the fuel crop and the process of turning it into fuel.
- 10 good ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your car use
- Join a car-sharing service.
- Use the train, bus, or bike if traveling alone. Typical savings: 40-98%.
- Put more people in the car. This could make it better than train travel, provided that the others were otherwise going to drive separately. Typical savings: 50-80%.
- Drive a small, efficient car. Typical savings: 50% compared with the average car.
- Look after your car so that it will do 200,000 miles in its lifetime and it runs as efficiently as it can. Typical savings: 30% compared with the average.
- Accelerate and decelerate gently, avoiding braking where possible. Typical savings: up to 20% in urban conditions.
- Drive at 60 miles per hr on highways and freeways. Typical savings: 10% compared with 70 mph.
- Keep the windows up when driving fast, and the air-conditioning off. Typical savings: 2%.
- Keep the tires at the right pressure. Typical savings: 1%
- Avoid rush hour. (See Congested car commute.
- Drive safely. (See Car crash.)
- Flying – a gigantic portion of global GHG emissions by a small number of people
- Flying is a gigantic portion of global GHG emissions, especially when considering that it is a small portion of people in each country that produce it. Aviation comes to 3% of the world total once the effect of altitude is factored in. Air travel for private purposes is a staggering 8 percent of the total GHG footprint in the UK.(12) If you include business travel and air freight as well, flying comes in at around 12% of the U.K.’s footprint—much higher than the figure usually quoted. Further, air travel is the fastest-growing major emissions source in the country. Many people never fly at all. Then again, for some people, flying accounts for the overwhelming majority of their total footprint, and trying to cut carbon in other areas might simply be a misdirection of attention, distracting them from what matters.
- Flying from Los Angeles to Barcelona return 3.4 tons CO2e economy class 4.6 tons CO2e average. Three economy trips are a whole year’s worth of 10-ton living. One trip is equivalent to 340,000 disposable plastic carrier bags. In other words, for your plastic bags to have the same footprint as just one trip from L.A. to Spain, you would have to go to the supermarket every single day for 10 years and return each time with 93 disposable bags.
- Almost one-third of the total weight on take-off is fuel. As the fuel burns, it creates three times its weight in CO2. But the impact is worse still because high-altitude emissions are known to have a considerably greater impact than their low-altitude equivalents.
- Ultimately, then, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that most of us need to fly less. But that needn’t make our lives any worse. Make your flights count: go for longer but less often, and do things you really couldn’t do at home. For the rest, try local trips, which involve less travel time and therefore more vacation.
- Land Use and Community Resources
- Deforestation (17% of all man-made emissions)
- Amazingly, an acre of deforestation is equivalent to a car driving around the world more than 10 times. Globally we are cutting down or burning about 32 million acres of rainforest per year. That’s about the size of Alabama or Mississippi. (UN ‘State of the World’s Forests’ report) Interestingly, North America now has more than 32 million acres of lawn under cultivation, occupying more land than any single crop, including wheat, corn, or tobacco.
- Deforestation results in about 9 billion tons CO2e or 17% of all man-made emissions.(4) Most of this deforestation total (about 22 million acres or 6 billion tons) involves clearing forest to make way for livestock and other agriculture. One estimate is that 20 to 25% of rainforest loss is due to cattle grazing, 35 to 45% to small holdings, 15 to 20% to intensive agriculture, 10 to 15% to logging, and perhaps 5% to other causes such as urbanization, mining, roads, and other infrastructure.(5)
- Anything that increases the land we need for agriculture drives deforestation. Included in this list are high-meat diets, cut flowers, and biofuel crops. In Brazil, where deforestation accounts for 70% of emissions, rates had been falling since 2004 until a spike in beef and soy prices brought on a further increase. Halting deforestation is potentially one of the easiest climate change wins, if only we can find the mechanism. Preserving indigenous land rights saves forests.
- Swimming pool
- A swimming pool uses 400 tons CO2e per year, the same as 40 people living the 10-ton lifestyle or just over the expected lifetime footprint of a child born in the U.K. today. Most of the pool’s gas is consumed in the process of heating the water. Electricity was used mainly for pumps, air extraction, and lighting. Most visitors traveled a fair distance by car to get there, and that accounted for 20% of the footprint. Around 30% could be prevented just through simple improvements in efficiency.
- Cemeteries and burial vs. cremation
- On top of the carbon, cremation sends significant amounts of mercury into the atmosphere. Burial sounds like a more climate-friendly solution, but can turn out to have 10% higher carbon once you take account of cemetery maintenance for the next 50 years.
- Construction, Manufacturing, etc.
- House construction
- A new house is 80 tons CO2e, equivalent to five brand-new family cars, eight years of 10-ton living, or 24 economy-class trips to Los Angeles to Barcelona.
- Construction comprises 6% of total emissions and includes domestic repairs, new houses, and all new commercial construction work. Building re-use is the most efficient option.
- Making concrete results in a staggering amount of CO2e: around 4% of the world’s total GHG footprint, largely because the chemical process that turns limestone into cement gives off large volumes of CO2 directly and takes a huge amount of energy. About 40% comes from the burning of fuel to drive the reaction and about half from the chemical reaction, leaving about 10% for supply chain. Cement makes up about 12% of the footprint of the U.K. construction industry, so other potential ways of reducing its impact are to use different materials, to build to last and build less, and to refurbish in preference to knocking down and building anew (see House).
- Eco-Cement, Advocates claim not only that this product requires half the energy input of conventional cement but also that it reabsorbs CO2 from the air as it hardens (around 400 g CO2e per kilo). There are also claims that it is easier to incorporate waste materials into the mix than with normal cement and that it is easier to recycle. The product is based on magnesite.
- Production of electrical goods
- Production of electrical goods–household computers and appliances—comes in at 4 percent of total GHG emissions, almost half as much as the electricity they consume in use.
- Steel, by location
- A report for the U.K. government estimated that the emissions associated with the manufacture of 1 ton of steel in China were typically three times those for steel made in the U.S., where production is carried only two-thirds of the footprint per ton of steel made in Denmark or the U.K. only half. India came out worse than China, and Nigeria is worse still—at over 11 times more carbon-intensive than for U.S. production. According to another recent study, Chinese steel mills emit as much as 12 times more carbon dioxide per ton as more modern mills in the U.S. and elsewhere. The latter are mostly so-called mini-mills — small, relatively low-cost steel mills that rely entirely upon scrap metal and run on electricity instead of coal. In most of the world, scrap-metal recycling now accounts for almost 40% of steelmaking (in the U.S., it’s more than 60 percent). Mini-mills offer several advantages, including the fact that they can be customized and turned on and off easily. (Traditional blast furnaces must run constantly, often for years.) That allows producers to manage output more readily. Thirty years ago, China wasn’t generating enough scrap metal to justify a transition to mini-mills, but they are now.
- PV panels
- Photovoltaic panels 3.5 tons CO2e producing a solar roof capable of generating 1,800 units (kilowatt-hours) of electricity per year 50 tons CO2e lifetime savings—that’s 5 years’ worth of 10-ton living. That gives the panels a footprint of 3.5 tons. If we assume that the electricity generated all replaces output from coal-fired power stations rather than the grid average, then the carbon savings per year is about 1.8 tons, and you’d pay back the carbon in about 2 years. Wind can be produced at a lower CO2 cost at the time of this writing.
- A new car
- A new car 6 tons CO2e Smart car, basic specification 17 tons CO2e Ford Taurus 35 tons CO2e Land Rover Discovery, top of the range. A new gas guzzler could eat up three and a half years’ worth of 10-ton living before you even drive it off the lot. (It’s not as much as this if you trade in your old car for resale.)
- Public administration, defense, education, health care, and social services
- Public administration, defense, and social services cause a significant 11% of emissions. A common misconception is that there is nothing we can do about this as individuals. To cut your share of these emissions, how about preventing crime; encouraging schools, universities, and businesses to manage their carbon; staying as healthy as possible; and voting with climate change in mind?
- War is very costly in very many respects as well as roundly condemned by human rights advocates and faith leaders. With regard to carbon emissions, the war-and-carbon discussion starts to get distinctly uncomfortable (and methodologically just about impossible) at the point where we start factoring in the indirect emissions impact caused by the death toll and indeed the broader economic impacts of the war.
- At a university, gas and electricity between them accounted for 45% of the total. Staff air travel came in at 10 percent, and staff and student car travel came in at about 7% each. Everything else that the university buys made up the remaining quarter of the footprint: IT equipment (5 percent), building maintenance (5 percent), paper based stuff (1 percent), and so on.
- IT in total accounted for about 12 percent, with nearly half of that being due to the electricity consumed by computers themselves and a sixth to the power consumed by servers and other computing infrastructure, including the air conditioning to cool it all down. The remaining third was due to the embodied emissions in the equipment itself, with a little bit for services such as Internet access and software. The sums here don’t take account of students and staff traveling to and from home, for example.