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Why Housing Policy Is Climate Policy

By Scott Wiener and Daniel Kammen for The New York Times

In California, where home prices are pushing people farther from their jobs, rising traffic is creating more pollution.

California has long been seen as a leader on climate change. The state’s history of aggressive action to reduce air pollution, accelerate the use of renewable energy and speed the transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy has inspired governments around the world to set more ambitious climate goals.

But there is trouble on the horizon, and California’s climate leadership is at risk.

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Across most of the state’s economy, greenhouse gas emissions have been trending steadily down. But ballooning car traffic on city streets and freeways is negating much of that progress. In California, about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from transportation, and they are increasing. In some California counties, two-thirds of emissions are from vehicles.

In November, the California Air Resources Board released an updateon efforts to reduce pollution from transportation. The numbers were alarming. Despite headlines about California’s push for more electric vehicles, pollution from cars is still climbing. “With emissions from the transportation sector continuing to rise, California will not achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet mandates for 2030,” the board warned.

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