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Climate Change (Research)

Transportation, Land Use and Greenhouse Gases A Bay Area Resource Guide

Hydro BusForty percent of the Bay Area’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs)—nearly 42 million metric tons a year—come from our cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships and planes. While the Bay Area has begun a serious discussion on ways to reduce transportation GHGs (primarily carbon dioxide, or CO2), we need better information to help us understand which strategies will yield the most cost-effective results. In addition, we must develop a clearer understanding of the important roles that each stakeholder—regional agencies, local governments, businesses, community groups and residents—must play if we are to significantly reduce our transportation “carbon footprint.” The scale of the task ahead is daunting. The chart on page 5 shows the reductions that must be made (both in total and per-capita emissions) for California to reach its climate goals for 2020 and 2050. Since California’s population is expected to grow significantly in this time period, we must strategically focus on transportation strategies that will make a major impact on emissions.The goal of this guide is to spark discussion and generate new ideas in the Bay Area transportation community.

Other Worlds are Possible: Human Progress in an Age of Climate Change

Other Worlds are PossibleThis sixth report from the Working Group on Climate Change and Development argues that our chances of triumphing over climate change will rise dramatically if we recognize that there we need not one but many models of human development. The report describes how the costs and benefits of global economic growth have been very unfairly distributed, with those on lowest incomes getting the fewest benefits and paying the highest costs. A wide range of examples of more positive approaches are given from the wide, practical experience of the agencies in the coalition. Altogether they paint a picture of more qualitative development that is not dependent on further global over-consumption by the already rich, in the hope that crumbs of poverty alleviation are perhaps passed to those at the bottom of the income pile. Other Worlds are Possible notes that difference between success and failure in the international climate negotiations will be whether governments and financial institutions continue to support old, failed economic approaches, with their policy frameworks and our financial resources, or whether they will move to encourage and replicate new approaches that take account of our changed economic and environmental circumstances. This timely report makes the case in compelling terms that there is not one model of economic development; there are many.

Climate Change: Crisis and Challenge

To successfully address the climate crisis, we must also identify and address the deep root causes that link it to the myriad other crises we face— economic, militarism and war, as well as the intertwined crises of food, water and biodiversity loss. These crises are unified by their common roots in an economic system that encourages banks and corporations to ignore ethical and moral considerations and gamble with the Earth, peoples’ lives, and our collective futures in the service of higher profits. To paraphrase neoliberal economic pioneer Milton Friedman, ‘the corporation cannot be ethical. It’s only responsibility is to make a profit for its shareholders.’ Successfully addressing climate change will require a fundamental restructuring of our society that, if thoughtfully done, can lay a new foundation that will simultaneously help us achieve both global justice and ecological balance.



A Climate of Change: African Americans, Global Warming, and a Just Climate Policy for the U.S.

Climate of change coverEverywhere we turn, the issues and impacts of climate change confront us. One of the most serious environmental threats facing the world today, climate change has moved from the minds of scientists and offices of environmentalists to the mainstream. Though the media is dominated by images of polar bears, melting glaciers, flooded lands, and arid desserts, there is a human face to this story as well. Climate change is not only an issue of the environment; it is also an issue of justice and human rights, one that dangerously intersects race and class. All over the world people of color, Indigenous Peoples and low-income communities bear disproportionate burdens from climate change itself, from ill-designed policies to prevent it, and from side effects of the energy systems that cause it. A Climate of Change explores the impacts of climate change on African Americans, from health to economics to community, and considers what policies would most harm or benefit African Americans—and the nation as a whole.

The Climate Gap: Inequalities in How Climate Change Hurts Americans & How to Close the Gap

The Climate Gap
What we used to think was tomorrow’s climate crisis is here today. Heat waves, wild fires and floods are making headlines more often. What hasn’t made headlines—yet—is the climate gap: the disproportionate and unequal impact the climate crisis has on people of color and the poor. Unless something is done, the consequences of America’s climate crisis will harm all Americans—especially those who are least able to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the worst consequences. This analysis is of California, which in many ways is a microcosm of the entire United States. Climate change is an issue of great importance for human rights, public health, and social fairness because of its profound consequences overall and the very real danger that poor neighborhoods and people of color will suffer even worse harms and hazards than the rest of Americans. This “climate gap” is of special concern for California, home to one of the most ethnically and economically diverse populations in the country.


Subprime Carbon? Re-thinking the World's Largest New Derivatives Market

Subprime Carbon ReportAs U.S. policymakers debate ways to effectively reform Wall Street, little attention is being paid to how and whether new financial regulations will be adequate to govern the carbon derivatives markets, which many experts believe may eventually be larger than the credit derivatives market. Similarly, most federal climate change bills do not provide for adequate carbon market regulations, creating a potentially huge regulatory gap. Existing climate legislation fails to recognize that financial markets have become vastly more complex and exotic since the early 1990s, when the U.S. introduced sulfur-dioxide trading. In addition, such legislation does not focus enough on regulating the secondary carbon markets, which will be dominated by speculators and will dwarf the primary trading markets. The speculative nature of the secondary markets has the potential to create a carbon bubble and spur the development of subprime carbon. “Subprime carbon” credits are futures contracts to deliver carbon that carry a relatively high risk of not being fulfilled, and could collapse in value.

The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast

PACinst Sea Level

In an analysis prepared for three California state agencies, the Pacific Institute estimates that 480,000 people; a wide range of critical infrastructure; vast areas of wetlands and other natural ecosystems; and nearly $100 billion in property along the California coast are at increased risk from flooding from a 1.4-meter sea-level rise – if no adaptation actions are taken. The Pacific Institute report, The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast, concludes that sea-level rise will inevitably change the character of the California coast, and that adaptation strategies must be evaluated, tested, and implemented if the risks identified in the report are to be reduced or avoided. Populations and critical infrastructure at risk are shown in detailed maps prepared by the Pacific Institute available online here. The report also explores how vulnerability to sea-level rise will be heightened among Californians who do not have a vehicle, do not speak English, or who live near hazardous waste facilities. Low-income households and communities of color are over-represented in these more vulnerable groups.


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