Calif. Mayors Sign Zero Emissions Pact for Ports

The Port of Los Angeles (Credit: Wknight94)

Since President Trump announced that the U.S. would exit the Paris Agreement, the so-called “climate mayors” have sent him yet another open letter, taken to Twitter to express their disapproval and reaffirmed their cities’ commitments to renewable energy. Now, two Southern California leaders have signed a regional declaration with national implications, setting yet another precedent for pledging two degrees at the local level.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia signed an agreement Monday directing the country’s largest port complex to “reduce air pollution by moving toward zero emission trucks and yard equipment,” the Los Angeles Times reports. The document sets deadlines of 2030 and 2035 for zero emissions cargo-handling equipment and on-road drayage trucks.

According to the agreement, the ports’ existing Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) “has led to dramatic emission reductions and substantial improvement in health risk since 2005, all while trade volume has increased by 10 [percent].” However, “the goods movement system around the port remains a major contributor to air pollution in the region.” Diesel pollution from trucks, cargo ships and locomotives makes the complex the largest single source of smog-forming pollution in Southern California.

At a press conference Garcetti called the targets “brave new territory” because zero emission technology for the heavy-duty equipment used by the ports is, in some cases, not widely available.

“But if we don’t keep pushing, if we don’t have those goals we’ll never get there,” he said, according to the Times.

The pre-emptive nature of the regulations worried goods movement industry groups, however.

“We need to make sure there are commercially available and viable technologies before we set hard deadlines,” Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, told the paper.

In January, Garcetti was one of four mayors — along with Mayor Ed Lee of San Francisco, Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland and Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle — who released a joint RFI in pursuit of an electrified vehicle fleet. In that case, as well, city officials weren’t necessarily pursuing widely-available existing technologies, but hoping to use their joint buying power to hurry the market along.

“Our cities know we can’t fight climate change alone, and by banding together we can do our part to accelerate marketplace transformation and bring greater efficiencies that will benefit our taxpayers and impacted neighborhoods,” Mayor Ed Lee said then in a release.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.

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Tags: los angelesclimate change