CHSRA Details Carbon Emission Reductions
The California High Speed Rail Authority today submitted a report to the State Legislature laying out the ways in which the HSR project will reduce carbon emissions. The findings are significant:
• An estimated 4 to 8 million metric tons of CO2e saved by 2030
• Planting thousands of new trees across the Central Valley
• Significant contributions to California’s goal in AB 32 and SB 375
• Zero net greenhouse gas emissions during construction
• Strict guideline for sustainability best practices for design-build contracts to minimize environmental impacts and improve air quality
In short, the high speed rail project is an essential piece of the state’s strategy to reduce carbon emissions. AB 32 requires California to reduce its carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, just six and a half years from now. That may seem like a modest goal given the overall climate crisis. But it’s more ambitious than almost anywhere else in the world right now. And while HSR between San Francisco and Los Angeles won’t be done in time to meet that goal, it will help maintain that goal over time as population and economic activity both grow.
The CHSRA’s estimate that there would be zero net GHG emissions during construction is also important, given that some anti-HSR folks have tried to claim that construction carbon emissions would somehow make the project not worth building even though the long-term savings would be enormous.
Every bit of carbon reduction helps add to the total and helps prevent catastrophic outcomes for California, from rising sea levels to drought to agricultural damage. The HSR project is rightly seen as an important part of that strategy. It’s time to remove the remaining impediments to construction, time for Congress to step up and fund the project, and time to get serious about reducing carbon emissions.