For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Contact: Dave Snyder, 916-251-9433, firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor’s Executive Order to Promote Clean Transportation Is Weak and Vague on the Most Important Strategies to Address the Climate Crisis
Sacramento, CA—Governor Gavin Newsom today released Executive Order N-79-20, calling for reduced carbon pollution from the transportation sector. Cars and trucks account for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gases emitted in California. The order gives strong support to electric cars but fails to set goals for reducing dependence on automobiles. California needs much more if we are to have any hope of forestalling a severe climate crisis and worsening poverty.
The first five of the order’s 12 clauses relate to converting gas-powered vehicles to electric. They set the goal of prohibiting the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035 and call for various other measures necessary to meet that goal. Other clauses refer to gradual reductions in oil extraction in California.
Only one clause calls for giving Californians better ways to get around than private electric cars. It requires the state’s transportation agencies to “identify near term actions and investment strategies to improve clean transportation.” The order specifies that those strategies should include “supporting bicycle, pedestrian, and micro-mobility options, particularly in low-income and disadvantaged communities in the State, by incorporating safe and accessible infrastructure into projects where appropriate.” This is too vague and weak at a time when bold action is called for.
Statement from CalBike
“We’ll never solve the climate crisis unless we also address the economic crisis, and we can’t do either without reducing our dependence on cars and trucks. California needs to replace gas-powered cars with electric ones, very quickly, but doing that alone is a recipe for total failure. We need to make it dramatically easier for people to walk, bike, and take transit to reduce greenhouse gases from the transportation sector and still provide affordable mobility, improve health, and create good jobs.” — Dave Snyder, Executive Director, CalBike
This executive order is an important first step for California toward finally taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, where we have made next to no progress toward California’s climate goals.
Governor Newsom’s order provides specific direction to six state agencies to achieve the important and necessary goal of eliminating sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035. It calls for a just transition to a carbon-free transportation sector by emphasizing the creation of good jobs and the improvement of infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.
However, the order is vague when it comes to the transition away from automobiles to public transit, walking, and biking. This transition is critical, especially for the state’s disadvantaged communities. Public investment in charging stations in disadvantaged communities will not serve the majority of households in these neighborhoods who cannot afford an electric car, even with a subsidy. Nor will such investment in electric cars serve the one-in-three households in low-income communities in the Bay Area, for example, who don’t even have a car.
Reducing the need for cars and trucks is paramount to the successful mitigation of climate change. Reducing car dependence reduces costs for the lowest-income Californians, improves health and safety for everyone, and creates more jobs than other transportation investments.
The Governor’s order specifically calls out the need to support micro-mobility in disadvantaged communities. Expanding access to public transit by including shared bikes and scooters as part of public transit systems is the key to equitable mobility. CalBike’s work to create the Clean Mobility Options for Disadvantaged Communities program supports this expansion, but much more investment is needed.
The Governor specifically called on three agencies to improve clean transportation: the California State Transportation Agency, the Department of Transportation, and the Transportation Commission. CalBike will work with all three to help define a future where Californians have clean transportation options beyond gridlocked freeways and expensive EVs. As the agencies ‘identify the near term actions” necessary to implement Governor’s order, CalBike will work to ensure they focus on making the improvements needed by those who would bike, walk, or take public transit if given the opportunity.