The Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) plays a critical role in California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) and air pollutant emissions from transportation. The LCFS incentivizes the use of fuels with lower life cycle GHG emissions by using a credit market mechanism to provide incentives for low-carbon fuels, using revenue generated by charges applied to high-carbon ones. Maintaining an approximate balance between LCFS credit and deficit supplies helps support a stable LCFS credit price and the broader transition to low-carbon transportation. The Fuel Portfolio Scenario Model, presented here, evaluates bottom-up fuel supply and LCFS compliance to inform LCFS policy decisions. We considered two key fuel demand scenarios: (1) the Low Carbon Transportation scenario, reflecting the expected transition to low-carbon transportation in California over the next 15 years, and (2) the Driving to Zero scenario, featuring a significantly higher consumption of petroleum gasoline. In both scenarios, 2030 LCFS targets around 30% resulted in a near-balance between credits and deficits, with some banked credits remaining. Several additional scenarios were modeled to explore the impact of target trajectory timing, alternate post-2030 targets, greater biofuel use, and other parameters. This fuel portfolio scenario modeling work can meaningfully inform policy development.
Many scientific projects are intended to inform public policy, however there are often difficulties transferring or translating research from scientists to policy makers. This paper reviews the existing literature on the quality of communication between scientists or field experts and policy makers and the challenges they face in conveying their research. A majority of best practice recommendations related to effective communication are rooted in anecdotal evidence and have not yet been subjected to systematic scientific study. This is, in part, because the nature of public policy makes data collection, randomization, or correcting for confounding factors extremely challenging. Studies that do put these recommendations to the test are most commonly fielded as national surveys of field experts and policy makers in comparative contexts. Few studies examine this subject in the United States, however, and most find mixed results as to the efficacy of well-accepted scientific communication strategies. Further, existing work often fails to account for the impact of reputation on the willingness of scientists to engage in policymaking and the willingness of political actors to seek and accept expert input in the policymaking process, unless it confirms pre-existing biases. The authors explain how this gap in the literature has important consequences for the quality of policies produced and suggest future avenues of research in the pursuit of sincere evidence-based policymaking.
View the NCST Project Webpage
The purpose of this report is to provide a research-driven analysis of options that can put California on a pathway to achieve carbon-neutral transportation by 2045. The report comprises thirteen sections. Section 1 provides an overview of the major components of transportation systems and how those components interact. Section 2 discusses the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has had on transportation. Section 3 discusses California’s current transportation-policy landscape. These three sections were previously published as a synthesis report. Section 4 analyzes the different carbon scenarios, focusing on “business as usual” (BAU) and Low Carbon (LC1). Section 5 provides an overview of key policy mechanisms to utilize in decarbonizing transportation. Section 6 is an analysis of the light-duty vehicle sector, section 7 is the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sectors, section 8 is reducing and electrifying vehicle miles traveled, and section 9 is an analysis of transportation fuels and their lifecycle. The following sections are an analysis of external costs and benefits: section 10 analyzes the health impacts of decarbonizing transportation, section 11 analyzes equity and environmental justice, and section 12 analyzes workforce and labor impacts. Finally, future research needs are provided in section 13. The study overall finds that cost-effective pathways to carbon-neutral transportation in California exist, but that they will require significant acceleration in a wide variety of policies.
Congestion pricing can be an equitable policy strategy. This project consisted of a review of case studies of existing and planned congestion pricing strategies in North America (Vancouver, Seattle, and New York) and elsewhere (Singapore, London, Stockholm, and Gothenberg). The analysis shows that the most equitable congestion pricing systems include 1) a meaningful community-engagement processes to help policymakers identify equitable priorities; 2) pricing structures that strike a balance between efficiency and equity, while encouraging multi-modal travel; 3) clear plans for investing CP revenues to equalize the costs and benefits of congestion relief; and lastly, 4) a comprehensive data reporting plan to ensure equity goals are achieved. This project was developed to support the San Francisco County Transportation Authority in its efforts to conduct the Downtown Congestion Project.
The purpose of this study overall is to explore the policy pathways to achieve a zero carbon transportation system in California by 2045. The purpose of this synthesis report is to describe the existing state of knowledge and policy related to energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the transportation sector, especially in California. It is an interim product of the larger study, which will use this report as the baseline and policy context sections. The report comprises four sections. Section 1 provides an overview of the major components of transportation systems and how those components interact. Section 2 explores key underlying concepts in transportation, including equity, health, employment, and environmental justice (EJ). Section 3 discusses California’s current transportation-policy landscape. Section 4 analyzes projected social, environmental, and economic outcomes of transportation under a “business as usual (BAU)” scenario—i.e., a scenario with no significant transportation-policy changes.