A Bold, Divisive Plan to Wean Californians From Cars

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

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California has made impressive strides in solar and wind power and its push for electric vehicles. But the combination of high housing costs and rising commute times threatens to keep the state from achieving its ambitious target of cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Last year, the California Air Resources Board estimated that meeting those goals would require a 7 percent cut in vehicle miles traveled by 2030, compared with levels that the agency projects would otherwise be reached under current policy. That would be 1.5 fewer miles per day for the average person.

“Land use is so fundamental to everything,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. “And it’s one of the areas where California is lagging.”

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