In 2021, California can lead the way on environment re-construction

California can be credited with lots of firsts: First state in the country to be granted a waiver from the fed to establish more stringent vehicle tailpipe emissions standards, separate from those established for the rest of the U.S. That’s pretty rad. Rad, as in radical. And, it is the aim of State Governor Gavin Newsom to have all sales of new autos in state to be restricted to zero-emissions by 2035. Whether or not that actually comes to pass remains to be seen.

Interesting that all new homes sold in the Golden State beginning this year – 2021 – must be solar-panel equipped. And, not written in stone, at least, not yet, but, from what I understand, California wants to exclusively have all-electric hook-up to all new homes, in other words, discontinued natural gas supply in these structures all due, if I’ve got this correct, to the negative health effects potential connected with use of this fossil fuel. Believe me: I get why the change is being sought.

Reports are the air in southern California is getting dirtier as of late. But to be quite honest I don’t think if this is solely on account of the number of wildfires we’ve seen over the past several years or, if excluding these devastating conflagrations, the air quality in the region, because of oil and gas industry, transportation, industrial, manufacturing, commercial, agricultural and residential emissions-creating activities, the pollution from all of these sources is what is making southern California air worse. It’s the very same possibly regarding air quality in the San Joaquin Valley.

Maybe I’ve missed the mark here completely; maybe I’m spot on.

The problem as I see it, that California is tasked with reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below what they were in 1990 by 2030 and by 80 percent below the 1990 level by mid-century, getting there won’t exactly be easy. The 1990 figure is 431 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions or 431 MMTCO2e. Forty percent below puts 2030’s emissions target at 258.6 MMTCO2e. How to get there is both the big question and challenge. (See also: “Latest California greenhouse gas emissions inventory a mixed bag. To meet 2030 target state has its work cut out,” here).

The area or sector where it seems the biggest reductions in greenhouse gases will be easiest of all will be energy, or so it would seem, based on history.

Meanwhile, the sector where major savings in emissions will prove the most difficult, no surprise, is transportation. It should be noted that in California, of all greenhouse gas emissions entering the atmosphere from all sources, transportation is the largest single contributor: 41 percent if emissions from oil and gas production is excluded. If included, transportation accounts for roughly half of contributed GHGs.

And, where reduction of GHGs from this sector is concerned, in California, environmental advocate Destiny Rodriguez sees addressing this situation as a matter of utmost urgency, anyway, at least that’s my take on this.

Rodriguez believes that not only must the pace in state pick up in regards to a clean-cars transition, but that it needs to be scaled up too, and that although years down the road there will still be some in-state motorists driving cars with internal combustion engines (ICE), she, however, feels certain that over time the numbers of ICE vehicles on California’s roads will become fewer and farther between, as her statements in reference to her Dec. 17, 2020 The Business Journal (of Fresno) Blog commentary: “Why we urgently need to phase out polluting cars” (the second of two articles in the grouping), would appear to suggest.

Though California’s work-in-progress high-speed rail program is not expected to high-speed-rail-connect the state’s two largest metropolitan coastal regions – Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area – until 2033, the project is building toward initiating regional service in the San Joaquin Valley by no later than 2028, that is, if all the stars align and everything goes according to plan. Construction in the Valley is quite extensive as there are 35 locations between Wasco in the south Valley and Madera in the north Valley over a distance of 119 miles where projects have either already been completed or are currently being built. High-speed rail will give residents and out-of-state or country visitors and/or tourists alike, one more means of travel that’s good for the environment, within the state for them to choose from.

Twenty-thirty is 10 years away. To get to the 258.6 MMTCO2e-threshold this is going to require ambitious GHG emissions-reduction action. With a new administration taking over in Washington, D.C. starting in 19 days, a lot in the environmental-protection space seems really poised to get done both in California and nationally. And, being that the United States is going to opt back into the Paris Climate Accord is a sign that is not only welcome, but also a favorable indication that the country environmentally and sustainability speaking will be on the mending and bridge-building path moving forward.

Here’s looking to there being far more sunnier days ahead!

Sunrise over the bay at Little Gasparilla Island, Florida

Image above: Mmacbeth.

– Alan Kandel

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