Available online at doi: 10.1080/01944360802540364
Handy, Susan L. and Patricia L. Mokhtarian (2008) Review of "Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change" . Journal of the American Planning Association 75 (1), 95 - 96
California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 set ambitious goals for reductions in CO2 emissions, which the state must now figure out how to achieve. One of the most controversial issues relates to planning is how much reduction in CO2 emissions could be expected from land use policies that affect driving. Environmental advocates are pushing for an aggressive target that will force changes in land use policies, while policymakers say they lack good evidence of their effectiveness.
Growing Cooler attempts to fill the gap by synthesizing the available evidence while offering new analyses. In setting the stage, the authors define “the three-legged stool needed to reduce CO2 from automobiles” (p. 2): vehicle fuel economy, the carbon content of fuel, and the amount of driving itself, measured as vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Experts increasingly agree that technology alone will not solve the CO2 problem, so reductions in VMT are a must. Three questions arise when determining land use and VMT reduction: 1) By what amount can compact development reduce VMT for people living there? 2) What share of total CO2 emissions will this represent, given how much compact development is likely to occur? 3) What policies will bring all this about? The first question occupies most of the book, and the answer given is, “It is reasonable to assume a 30 percent cut in VMT with compact development” for people living in such areas (p. 9).