How We Roll, Dec. 14: how will the climate change deal change our lives in L.A. County?

TypeCon 2010 Los Angeles: Famous LA Traffic Jam

What does a climate deal mean for the world? (NYT)

Smart summary in the Old Gray Lady looking at different aspects of the climate change agreement reached in Paris on Saturday. As we’ve noted in the past, if you’re reading this while riding transit, you’re ahead of the curve as switching from driving alone to taking transit is, generally speaking, a good way to reduce your own carbon footprint.

As for the deal: 195 of the world’s countries agreed to work together to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The two degrees is intended to prevent catastrophic changes to the global environment and economy — i.e. flooding of coastal areas and loss of agriculture, for example.

The U.S. has said it will cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 — and then more beyond that. Some states — including California — are seeking to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. As part of that effort, California and seven other states in 2013 agreed to put 3.3 million electric-powered vehicles on the road by 2025. That’s a fraction of the total cars — yet still a significant number.

That’s the news many leaders are hailing as good. What remains uncertain is how — or if — nations will stick to the agreement. If the Paris deal holds, the world must soon embrace a fossil fuels diet, the problem being that fossil fuels — i.e. oil, natural gas and coal — are often the cheapest form of energy.

Click to see full size. The rail transit network in L.A. is expanding thanks to Measure R.

Click to see full size. The rail transit network in L.A. is expanding thanks to Measure R.

Another question: how will the agreement change our everyday lives in Los Angeles County? The most likely scenario: more of our electricity will come from renewable sources, we’ll drive more electric cars, hybrids or seriously fuel efficient cars and there will be more options for getting around — more transit as the Measure R projects are built and completed, more bike lanes and more infill development with more walkable neighborhoods.

Along these lines, some stories that you may find interesting…

Here’s a good NPR look at government incentives that are helping push electric car sales in China:

Grist’s “Ask Umbra” feature takes a look at how much energy it takes to power all those soda machines — whose presence everywhere many of us (read: me) take for granted.

Just in time for Paris, the U.S. solar industry is having its biggest year, so says the Washington Post.

The LAT’s editorial page takes issue with the Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, which recently rejected a staff proposal and adopted weaker standards that could allow local industries to emit more greenhouse gases.

Although this article is from 2009, Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction” in the New Yorker remains one of the seminal pieces of journalism describing the impacts of global warming on the Earth’s wildlife, with some estimates predicting that by the year 2100 half of the Earth’s species will be gone.

Last and certainly not least, below is Metro’s latest sustainability report, including an important section on the agency’s greenhouse gas emissions. As the report notes, Metro depends on fossil fuels to help power its buses, trains and facilities, but those emissions are offset by getting people out of their cars and helping reduce the number of cars on the road. There is also a lot of information about Metro’s efforts to make its many buildings more efficient and more reliant on renewable energy.

Recent How We Rolls:

Dec. 11: will we ever have a truly car-free city?

Dec. 10: hey, so when is the Expo Line to SaMo opening?

Dec. 9: Uber’s latest biggish idea, health clinics at transit stops?

Dec. 8: L.A. Weekly’s Purple Line Extension skepticism, smog discounts in Bejiing

Dec. 3: a new name for Pasadena’s bus system, flying versus the environment.

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5 replies

  1. “As for the deal: 195 of the world’s countries agreed to work together to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. ”

    The ultimate hypocrisy being is that you have the world’s leaders flying to Paris to do this instead of say, having this meeting over Skype or a GoToMeeting webinar or whatever.

    “Yes, let’s save the environment!! Climate change is the most important thing today over stuff like ISIS!!! BTW, did you get my private jumbo jet ready, booked a five star hotel for us? Oh and make sure our reservation for the dinner at that restaurant in Champs-Élysées is ready.”

    BTW it’s not really a deal that the US has to adhere to considering that all treaties have to ratified by the Senate. Much like the Kyoto Protocol, all this is just a yet another useless meeting that were spent by each and every nation’s taxes to bring their elite politicians over to a vacation to Paris to come up with a BS agreement that everyone likes to hear, but in reality, nothing really gets done. You know, like the UN?

  2. MTA has refused to design the Regional Connector Subway in a way to minimize green house gas emissions: It has included unneeded steeper slopes and refused to design a more level tunnel configuration. Pushing 100 ton trains up and down slopes 200 times each day for the next century will waste energy and generate excessive green house gases. A more level subway would reduce such emissions. The Regional Connector does not need to be a roller coaster, but can keep all the slopes below 2% – – – the slope standard for most other subways in the world. MTA just does not listen to technical concerns or community input.

  3. London Underground’s Central Line was designed so that many of its downtown stations (all in tunnel) were at the top of an incline. That way, deceleration on approach to stations was eased, as was acceleration away from them. Brilliant Victorians!