Groundbreaking research identifies significant opportunities to reduce vehicle trips and GHG if work-from-home policies are both flexible and low-income communities have access to affordable, reliable home Internet
Pursuing long-term solutions to address climate change, the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF) in partnership with the Los Angeles Digital Equity Action League (LA DEAL) today announced recommendations to reduce vehicle-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by accelerating broadband infrastructure construction and home broadband adoption to decrease vehicle trips. According to the research supported by a Sustainable Communities Grant from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), depending on the scope and speed of action, the region can potentially reduce the region’s GHG emissions by up to 15%.
The key findings and recommendations are being announced in celebration of Earth Day 2022 and at a critical period in the region’s planning history; the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has assigned to SCAG a target of reducing GHG by 19% from 2005 levels by 2035. Additionally, emerging from the pandemic, elected and business leaders are making consequential decisions about how and where their employees work that likely will significantly impact the degree to which vehicle trips can be reduced. Adding to the urgency, decisions on where and how to deploy historic levels of federal and state funding for broadband infrastructure and affordable home Internet for qualified households are being made now. (State statute defines broadband as a generic term for high-speed Internet infrastructure, including wireline and wireless networks and technologies.)
In the new research, the private sector identified the top two strategies to reduce trip generation as expanding construction of high-speed Internet throughout the region and employer tax credits to implement telecommuting. And more than half of public agencies, service providers and education and health organizations surveyed said lack of high-speed Internet infrastructure limited the number of employees who can work remotely and said the top strategy to reduce trip generation is to help their clients, including students and patients, access affordable home Internet and a computing device.
“Achieving the widespread region’s goals will require land-use planners and regulators to think about incorporating broadband into all new projects to help reduce trip generation and ensure Digital Equity. Decisions made today will impact the future of California’s leadership and competitiveness in the world economy and reputation as a pioneering steward of the environment and champion of social equity and justice so all Californians can thrive in the Digital Age,” said Kome Ajise, SCAG Executive Director. “High-speed Internet infrastructure can not only offset vehicle trips, reduce GHG emissions, and relieve traffic congestion, but ultimately provide all of our communities equitable access to healthcare and the education that the Internet provides.”