Center for Law, Energy & the Environment Publications

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California’s freight system is integral to the functioning of the state, national, and global economies. It includes all forms of commercial transportation of freight to, from, and within the state and is responsible for one third of the state’s economy. The vehicles, equipment, and infrastructure that constitute this system are also collectively responsible for six percent of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, nearly 50 percent of statewide diesel particular matter emissions, and approximately 45 percent of statewide nitrogen oxides emissions. In order for California to meet its ambitious climate, air quality, and public health goals (particularly in disadvantaged communities), the state will need to realize significant reductions from the freight sector. These goals lead the nation. California’s air quality standards for health-harming “criteria” pollutants in all cases are equally or more stringent than corresponding national standards while SB 32 (Pavley, 2016) and AB 197 (E. Garcia, 2016) require the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and consider the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, respectively.1 The Climate Change Scoping Plan is the defining document for how the state will meet these mandates. Meanwhile, AB 398 (E. Garcia, 2017) clarified the role of the state’s cap-and-trade program through the same year to help achieve the climate goals, while AB 617 (C. Garcia, 2017) requires the state to focus on improving air quality in vulnerable areas.

Technological developments based on the sharing of data among industry actors, pilot projects demonstrating the viability of more efficient processes or advanced technologies, and new infrastructure spending targeted at the needs of the freight system all have the potential to help achieve these needed reductions. However, without policy support from state legislators and environmental, transportation, utility, and energy regulators, in addition to increased access to industry data to facilitate the most promising technological developments, Freight accounts for approximately 6% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions, 45% of nitrogen oxides emissions, and 50% of particulate matter emissions. Delivering the Goods: How California Can Create the Sustainable Freight System of the Future 2 the system is unlikely to undergo the changes necessary to keep pace with state climate and air quality goals. In response, the state issued the California Sustainable Freight Action Plan (the “Freight Action Plan”) in 2016, which details plans to integrate investments, policies, and programs across several state agencies to help realize a collaborative vision for California’s freight transport system. The Freight Action Plan identifies key characteristics we need to see in California’s future freight system to achieve the state’s environmental goals while maintaining economic competitiveness and improving efficiency. As part of the implementation of the Freight Action Plan, the interagency team convened experts from government, industry, and environmental, and advocacy groups for a two-day discussion in July 2017 (all participants are listed in Section IV) to identify challenges to building the system of the future as envisioned in the Freight Action Plan, as well as potential solutions to those challenges. The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE) at UC Berkeley School of Law facilitated the convening and prepared this report, which serves as a summary of the discussion. The first day of the discussion focused on participants’ own vision and goals for achieving a sustainable freight system and the challenges they anticipated, while the second focused on a range of near- and long-term solutions to those challenges.