Thursday, November 14, 2019

Beaverton Climate Plan has too much EV Tech Utopianism

Over at they remarked on Beaverton's new draft Climate Action Plan. On the cover Beaverton centers notions of a path for 1.5 degree increase. That's ambitious!

Eh...just looking at transportation, it doesn't look like it grapples seriously with the changes necessary. It looks reassuring and soothing, maybe a little aspirational, but not really digging into the scope of, and response proper to, our actual climate emergency.

It's interesting they say only 28% from transportation;
Salem says 53%; they're also big on electrification
(The Active Transportation Plan is sufficient, it seems)

Beaverton leads with EV tech-utopianism;
and instead of "driving less"
say "reduce congestion"; active transport is secondary
Maybe there will be more to say later, but I'm not sure this should be a model for Salem. They place too much faith in the tech-utopianism of EVs and do not develop enough policy for the structural change of driving less. These plans look like the authors go through existing plans, say "look, see what great things they are doing already!" and see a messaging and PR problem. We've seen a little of this in Salem also.

On substance, they don't think through ways current actions, even if done better, are still insufficient. The plan is consequently still too much an exercise in anodyne greenwash and not enough of a plan for sustained action and transformation.

If Beaverton's per capita emissions are more than Salem's,
it's hard to see the relative proportion is less, 28% v. 53%
from Our Salem's analysis in June 2019
There's also the question about methodology. Of course assessing local emissions is a new analytical discipline, and there is very likely to be some variation as we try out different approaches. But 28% vs. 53% just seems so big. Is there that much difference between Beaverton and Salem? Especially if Beaverton's per capita emissions are higher than Salem's.

Rather than starting with EVs,
a Climate Plan needs to start with this - cut driving in half.
via Twitter
In any case, we will know that a Climate Plan is serious when it leads not with the gee-whiz wonders of electrification and tech utopianism, and the implication that "you can still basically drive as much as you want, with a little bit of extra walking and biking," but with a serious plan to cut driving in half.

Better land use - like more downtown housing!
and missing middle housing!- will be
important ingredients for reducing driving


Susann Kaltwasser said...

Do we know if the difference between Eugene and Salem is due to? I speculate it might be their much better bus system.

I don't think gas vehicles are going away any time soon. We need to start with much more likely things, like reducing trips by combining errands, promoting carpools, and getting people to stop dropping off and picking kids up at school first.

Also, must put in my 2 cents on how much I doubt the validity of 'professionals' sitting in rooms and making decisions for the community based on something they learned in a book. How about doing some real life surveys or discussions with the average person?

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

re:"We need to start with much more likely things, like reducing trips by combining errands, promoting carpools, and getting people to stop dropping off and picking kids up at school first."

Parking policy is one of the biggest ways we encourage extra drive-alone trips.

Right-priced parking and eliminating parking minimums is an important move towards reducing trips.

Until we get this basic incentive aligned, trip reduction will remain difficult.

(But "average" people will likely say, "No, we must have our free parking, lots of parking, parking always where I want it in front of where I want to go, at home and on errands." This is why State action on zoning and housing reform was necessary. You may not adequately account for tension between what people want in an immediate sense and what longer-term goals require.)

Anonymous said...

Meeting our climate goals necessitates doing things differently in the future than we have in the past. The "average person" should understand this, but I'm afraid most folks don't want to do things differently.