Climate Action Plan - Sunnyvale
On the agenda of the Sunnyvale City Council for July 17th, 2018 is the "Climate Action Plan Biennial Progress Report 2018" (CAPPR). That report is available here:
The report is supposed to show what Sunnyvale has done, is doing now, and plans to do in the future in reducing Green House Gases (GHGs).
The chart of GHG emissions is on page 2 of the report: (click chart ot enlarge)
"Emissions Sources and Trends"
GHGs from Commercial and Residential Electricity Significantly Down
GHGs from Transport & Natural Gas Use the Same or Higher
The big improvements have been in electricity generation, and that can "...be attributed to significantly cleaner electricity supplied by PG&E, more energy efficient buildings, and increased energy conservation efforts." (page 3 of CAPPR).
Basically, this says that in terms of GHG reduction, the city of Sunnyvale has on its own accomplished nothing at all. All the main sources of GHG emissions except electricity are essentially unchanged with no plans to do anything significant about any of them.
The CAPPR states that demographics has driven most of the growth in GHG emissions. Increase in population generated increased car use, more trucking of goods into Sunnyvale, and more homes and offices using natural gas to heat rooms and hot water.
http://meetingthetwain.blogspot.com/2017/01/home-energy-use-1.html ). Since the electric grid seems to be quickly going to zero GHG emissions, electrically powered heating for rooms and water would eliminate that source of GHG emissions. The CAPPR mentions a study on heat pumps to be completed soon.
It is a little hard to tell what the total GHG emissions from natural gas are in Sunnyvale since there are no numbers given in the text or on the charts in the CAPPR. Reading the bar chart at the beginning, it appears that about 200,000 MTCO2e (Mega Tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent) gases were from natural gas. About 375,000 MTCO2e appears to be the number from transportation emissions. So natural gas GHG emissions are about 53% of the GHG emissions from transport. Taken as a combined number of 575,000 MTCO2e, natural gas is 35% of the combined total. See pie chart below (click image to enlarge).
Sunnyvale GHG Emissions from Natural Gas + Transport
35% Natural Gas, 65% Transport
Transport is the largest single generator of GHGs but since it is not broken out for Sunnyvale by commercial and personal we use the following chart as an approximate guide: (click chart to enlarge)
Global Transportation Sector GHG Emissions
54% Light Duty Vehicle, 46% Heavy Duty
That means that of the roughly 375,000 MTCO2e, only about 190,000 MTCO2e is due to personal transport such as commuting or shopping. We have data below showing that only 19% of the person-miles per house hold (average 2 cars per household) is spent commuting. Add in an additional 6% that is "Work Related" to get 25% of person-miles is commuting.
Person-Miles Traveled by Purpose
Work = 19.0%, Work-related = 6.3%
Combined work = 25%
The "Mobility" section of the CAPPR highlights things such as how many bike to work (1.6%) as seen below:
How much impact does biking to work have on GHG emissions in Sunnyvale? From the US Census tool, "OnTheMap" we have the following breakdown for Sunnyvale of commute distances: (Click map to enlarge)
|More on how to use the US Census too here:|
69% commute less than 10 miles,
15% commute 10 to 24 miles,
10% commute 25 to 50 miles, and
7% commute over 50 miles.
Computing person miles traveled, we use the mid-point of each commute range (5, 17, 38) and 60 for "Greater than 50" and get that out of every 100 residents,
69 persons x 5 miles = 345 PMT
15 persons x 17 miles = 255 PMT
10 persons x 38 miles = 380 PMT
7 persons x 60 miles = 420 PMT
Total = 1400 PMT (person miles traveled)
A typical biker averages 10 MPH so 5 miles is about a 30-minute bike ride. The average commute in the US is under 30 minutes so we can estimate 5 miles as the maximum distance we can ask anyone to bike. That is roughly half the 69% or equivalently that is half the 345 PMT so about 175 PMT. Out of the total 1400 PMT per hundred resident workers, that is only 12.5% of the total GHG from commuting if everyone who reasonably can bikes to work.
We found earlier that only 48,000 MTCO2e was due to commuting, so 12.5% of that is 6,000 MTCO2e eliminated if the current 1.6% bike-to-work number becomes 35%.
In conclusion, we can say that of the 375,000 MTCO2e due to transport, 6,000 can be reduced by getting everyone who can bike to work does so. A reduction of 6,000 out of 375,000 = 1.6% of transport GHG emissions eliminated in the extreme case of everyone who could bike to work were to do so.
In comparison, natural gas is 200,000 MTCO2e, or 33 times more than can be eliminated by biking to work.
I covered "bike to work" in more detail here: