California commits to global leadership on climate change

MONTREAL—In a recent press conference announcing successes, the International Transport Decarbonization Alliance touted California coming on board as a major accomplishment. Launched in 2018, the group brings together countries, cities, regions and companies committed to shrinking the transport sector’s carbon footprint before 2050.

The Golden State is the first country, state or city in North America to join the group, speakers said. With the world’s fifth-largest economy, California could have a bigger impact than any of the group’s member countries, such as Costa Rica, Finland, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal.

“We are very proud to have the state of California as one of the new members we gained this year,” said Maruxa Cardama, secretary general of the Partnership on Sustainable, Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT), at the press conference held at Movin’On Summit in Montreal.

The three-day gathering in early June, described as the “Davos of mobility,” drew 6,000 leaders from business, politics and academia representing 43 countries with a goal of moving from “ambition to action” in addressing sustainable mobility.

Ambitious goals

With a growing population of 38 million residents and 30 million vehicles, adopting this target in earnest would put California firmly in the lead on climate policy, not just in the U.S. but globally, say experts. Transport emissions account for 25 percent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and are the fastest-rising source of those emissions.

Reducing the state’s carbon footprint is a major strategy in tackling accelerated global warming and advancing the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The state has already set goals to advance clean fuels, clean cars and clean transit. Last year, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order setting a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2025 and 5 million by 2030.

“For the state of California, we have set pretty ambitious climate goals of our own. We have set a goal to reduce greenhouse gases in the state by 80 percent, below 1990 levels, by 2050. And (we have set) a midterm goal of reducing 1990 levels by 40 percent by 2030,” said Darwin Moosavi, special advisor to the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and representing CalSTA at the June 5 press conference.

“We obviously can’t reach those goals as a state alone without relying on and collaborating with partners across the world, learning and exchanging information of how to do that. This (membership) has been a key collaboration in helping us get there.”

Targets on track

California is on track with targets so far, Moosavi added. Most reductions have come in sectors outside of transportation, which has left transportation to be 40 percent of the state’s emissions—just from tailpipe emissions alone.

“That number will continue to increase if we don’t find real solutions for decreasing transportation, as we are on track to see major reductions from other industries,” said Moosavi. “I think this is a key industry the state has recognized that we need to focus on. Our joining the (Alliance) was a signal to our constituents and to the world that California is serious about our commitment and joining others in this commitment.”

Moosavi told Bus & Motorcoach News that the state will be looking to the motorcoach industry and others in the transportation sector to be part of the solution.

“We used to very much think of transportation as binary forms—driving, personal transit, walking and biking. We are starting to see it as more of a broad spectrum of all kinds of solutions coming together. I think there is a lot of room and opportunity for a lot of solutions for things like public-private partnerships and various types of programs,” Moosavi said.


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