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Climate Change

Climate Change: Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

The Bay Area emits global warming pollution at three times the world average; and 40 percent of these emissions come from the transportation sector, mostly from cars, trucks, buses, trains and ferries. MTC is undertaking various measures — many of which are required by state and federal law — to reduce GHG emissions and/or mitigate the effects of climate change. Below are some program highlights:

Climate Change and Extreme Weather Adaptation Options Pilot

(PDF, 64 MB) December 2014

MTC, in partnership with BCDC, Caltrans District 4 and BART, was awarded a grant from the Federal Highway Administration for a pilot study to assess climate change and extreme weather vulnerability and adaptation options for transportation infrastructure in the Alameda County sub-region. This project leverages the previous vulnerability and risk analysis, Adapting to Rising Tides (ART): Transportation Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Pilot Project released in November 2011.

The key objectives of the pilot project are as follows:

  • A refined understanding of vulnerability and risk for the core transportation assets in three focus areas within the Alameda County sub-region
  • A refined understanding of sea level rise and storm event exposure in the three focus areas by analyzing the extent, depth, and duration of inundation caused by overtopping of specific shoreline segments
  • High-level climate adaptation options on three scales: 1) the core transportation assets alone; 2) the core transportation assets with key adjacent assets; and 3) each focus area as a whole
  • Five refined representative adaptation options with specific and detailed actions including identification of timing, responsible parties, and method for implementation"

Plan Bay Area

The most ambitious effort is Plan Bay Area, which grew out of California’s 2008 Senate Bill 375 (Steinberg). The first requirement of SB 375 is to reduce California’s GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Each of the state’s 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), such as MTC, must develop a long-range transportation and land-use/housing plan that will reduce its region’s per-capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars and light duty trucks.

The primary strategy is by building more compact communities with better access to mass transit and other amenities, so people have more transportation choices and do not have to drive as much. The second requirement is to house 100 percent of the region’s projected 25-year population growth, regardless of income level within the region.

If successful, Plan Bay Area not only will give people more transportation choices, it will create more livable communities and reduce the pollution that causes climate change. MTC’s main partners in developing Plan Bay Area are the Association of Bay Area Governments, all nine counties and 101 cities in the Bay Area, and, of course, the public.

Climate Initiatives Program

This $80 million program focuses on public outreach and education efforts aimed at helping individuals develop climate-friendly behaviors, reduce the Bay Area’s carbon footprint, and lay the groundwork for future climate change initiatives. The campaign also encompasses a suite of complementary grants, incentives and action-oriented programs. Each investment or tactic will be measured via pilot programs, as well as through public opinion surveys and emissions reductions estimates. This work also will help build a knowledge base to inform Plan Bay Area and the Sustainable Communities Strategy

The Climate Initiatives Program consists of four primary elements: 1) Climate Initiatives Grants ($36 million), 2) Public Education and Outreach ($10 million), 3) Safe Routes to Schools ($17 million), and 4) Program Evaluation ($4 million).

  1. Climate Initiatives Grants
    The Climate Grants Program will fund major demonstration projects to test the most innovative strategies to promote changes in driving and travel behaviors. This marks the first time the Bay Area has focused its energies on a climate protection initiative, providing a great opportunity to learn what kinds of strategies can most effectively reduce GHG emissions. Potential projects may seek to increase the use of low-GHG alternative fuels, expand car-sharing programs, or implement low-GHG tire incentive programs or pricing demonstration projects.
  2. Public Education and Outreach
    Individuals must do their part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While much attention has been dedicated to technological innovations, the cumulative results of Bay Area residents’ individual actions are also key to making progress. This component of the Climate Initiatives Program aims to encourage the public toward making the behavioral choices that result in reduced GHG and motor vehicle-related emissions and measure the effectiveness of the efforts via testing through pilot programs using control groups, as well as through public opinion surveys and public awareness/action surveys including emissions-reductions estimates.
  3. Safe Routes to Schools
    The Safe Routes to Schools Program aims to increase the number of children who walk or bicycle to school by funding projects that remove barriers to such activities. Barriers often include lack of infrastructure, unsafe facilities that result in uninviting walking and bicycling conditions, and lack of education and enforcement programs aimed at children, parents and the community at large. Through the Safe Routes to School program, local champions work with parents, schools, and transportation, health and law enforcement providers to implement community solutions.
  4. Program Evaluation
    Testing with pilot groups will enable us to determine a tactic’s effectiveness prior to region-wide rollout, providing both cost savings and useful research results. Each pilot will be evaluated for its ability to change the targeted behavior and, ultimately, reduce GHG emissions. This will be accomplished by collecting participant’s activities through the piloted tool itself or through self-reporting. Evaluation data will be used to inform activities conducted the following year, which will include expanding the successful elements to the Bay Area public.

For more information, contact Stefanie Hom, 510-817-5756, shom@mtc.ca.gov.