California Cities, Counties Invited to Low-Carbon Workshops

SACRAMENTO, California, February 20, 2008 (ENS) – California’s cities and counties must take action now to combat global warming by limiting emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, says California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.

In 534 letters mailed statewide Tuesday, Brown invited mayors, local planning directors, and county supervisors to attend workshops this spring where they can learn practical ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown said, “These workshops will launch the first statewide movement to reduce the negative impact of local planning decisions on global climate.” The workshops will be held from March to May in Oakland, Sacramento, Visalia, Los Angeles and Monterey.

Brown began the letter by saying, “I write to you today about a myth, a challenge, and an opportunity. The myth is that there is no immediate need to address local contributions to global warming. The challenge is to take action today and at every level to address global warming. And the opportunity, particularly for local government, is to be an active force in the fight against global warming by asking the hard questions, seeking the best information, and making the sound decisions that will move California to a low-carbon future.”

The Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, requires California to cut greenhouse gas emission to 1990 levels by 2020, but the rules and market mechanisms will not take effect until 2012. Meanwhile, local governments will make thousands of planning decisions that will affect the emission of greenhouse gases. The workshops are intended to help local officials make climate-friendly decisions.

Brown will co-host the workshops, which will focus on climate change and the California Environmental Quality Act. This law requires local agencies to analyze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from projects with significant impact, including regional transportation and development plans.

Methods of modeling greenhouse gas emissions will be discussed in detail at the workshops, which will also address how cities and counties can analyze the global warming-related impacts of development efficiently and on limited budgets and find strategies to mitigate them.

Thirty thousand square feet of solar
panels on the roof provide power
to the Moscone Convention Center
in downtown San Francisco. (Photo
courtesy PowerLight Corporation)

“California must adopt the necessary changes that will encourage economic growth while reducing greenhouse gases,” Brown said. “This difficult transition from our current escalating dependence on fossil fuel demands that cities and counties encourage maximum building efficiency and innovative land-use.”

To date, the attorney general has submitted formal comments to 23 local jurisdictions throughout the state under the California Environmental Quality Act, encouraging them to evaluate and avoid or limit the increases in carbon dioxide emissions caused by land use decisions.

Attorney General Brown also has reached agreements with San Bernardino County and ConcoPhillips on specific greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

Local jurisdictions across California including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Marin, Palo Alto, Chula Vista, Modesto and Healdsburg already are initiating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Many mitigation strategies are becoming realities of life in California.

The City of Berkeley, for example, is developing a program that funds solar power projects with public monies and allows the property owners to repay the city through property tax assessments.

High-density developments are being planned that reduce vehicle trips and utilize public transit. Transportation impact fees are being placed on developments to fund public transit service, and regional transportation centers where various types of public transportation meet are being planned.

Electric vehicle charging facilities and conveniently located alternative fueling stations are springing up across the state.

Methane is being recovered from landfills and wastewater treatment plants to generate electricity.

Developers are including energy efficient designs for buildings, appliances, lighting and office equipment as well as solar panels, water reuse systems and on-site renewable energy production.

Greenhouse gas emissions are being offset by purchases of carbon emissions credits that fund alternative energy projects.

In addition, over 120 California cities have joined the Cool Cities campaign and taking concrete steps to fight global warming, including the development of greenhouse gas emissions inventories and a local Climate Action Plan.

Twelve Cool Counties each are establishing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and regional plan to cut emissions to 80 percent below current levels by 2050.

The California Department of Justice Website has been expanded to provide information that can help local agencies join the fight against global warming at: url][/url]

View This Story On Eco–mmunity Map.