Case #1978.0

Ambitious but Achievable: Using Land Use and Transportation Plans to Reduce GHG Emissions in California

Publication Date: March 25, 2013
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In the summer of 2010, leaders of California's Air Quality Board (CARB) had to make key decisions on their state's landmark efforts to use regional land use and transportation plans to reduce vehicle miles travelled (VMT) and thereby limit greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In doing so, they had to decide on emission standards that would meet their long-stated goal of setting targets that were both ambitious and achievable. The decision was the culmination of an almost two-year process spurred by the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 375, "The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008." Despite an extensive planning process as well as a series of reports and studies, there was little consensus on how much impact land use and transportation policies might have on VMT and GHG emissions and whether some proposed policies were politically feasible.

Learning Objective:
This case is intended for use in courses on transportation, environmental policy, and urban planning to both illustrate the effectiveness of land use and transportation policies to reduce GHG emissions and support discussions about both the technical and political challenges to implementing those policies. It also can also be used to raise larger issues of how to calculate cost-effectiveness or the use of cost effectiveness to determine pollution abatement strategies.

Other Details

Teaching Plan:
Available with Educator Access
Case Author:
David Luberoff, Carl Allen
Faculty Lead:
Jose Gomez-Ibanez
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
U.S. Department of Transportation through the New England University Transportation Center