Transit-centered growth will help reduce greenhouse gases

As a coastal area, San Francisco is sensitive to reports that climate change from greenhouse gases would raise ocean levels and inundate parts of the region.  Since new report, Climate Change and the Bay Area shows that half of all greenhouse gas emmissions come from private automobiles, planners are working on mixed-use, transit oriented development to reduce the need for cars.  As Edward Carpenter writes, 

With the average Bay Area resident spewing about 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere a year, the move toward transit-centered development is the only logical choice to cut traffic congestion and tackle global warming, according to transit experts.

Not only could high-density housing development encourage more walking, biking and transit use, it could help the state reach its ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 25 percent, to 1990 levels by 2020, said Ted Droettboom, regional planning director for a joint committee on smart growth.

“Smart growth is going to play one huge part in reducing greenhouse gases,” Droettboom told members of the Joint Policy Committee on Friday.

And while transit-oriented development is not a silver bullet, convincing drivers to give up their cars addresses, head-on, the largest source of greenhouse gases in the Bay Area and California, James Corless of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said. An estimated 50 percent of all greenhouses gases in the Bay Area — more than twice that from local industry — comes from personal vehicles, a new study on “Climate Change and the Bay Area” shows.

“We’ve got a really tough task ahead of us,” Droettboom told committee members. He warned of an impending crisis in which wildfires increase 55 percent and ocean levels rise, submerging the San Francisco and Oakland airports by the year 2099.

As a first step to getting a grip on the problem, the Joint Policy Committee voted unanimously Friday to move forward with a comprehensive analysis of what traffic and Bay conservation agencies as well as local governments need to do to begin reducing greenhouse gases. Warning there is no time to lose and adopting the state’s 25 percent reduction model as a goal, the analysis is expected to be complete in six months, Droettboom said.

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