Council unanimously passes Oakland Energy, Climate Action Plan
on July 9, 2009
The Oakland Council members unanimously passed an Energy and Climate Action Plan late Tuesday night.
Targets listed in the plan would meet international standards of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a unit put on partly by the United Nations Environment Program.
“We are unlikely allies,” said Ian Kim, member of the Oakland Climate Action Coalition, an umbrella coalition representing many groups in the Bay Area. “We are strange bed fellows. We are business leaders and labor union leaders. Scientists and social service providers. We believe that proposed targets to reducing global warming is what science and common sense call for.”
Kim spoke on behalf of the 12 people who stayed close to six hours waiting for the agenda item to come up.
We are not just here to call for things to go away but how we can transition towards low carbon and healthy communities.”
Not only was the Plan and Energy Climate Plan hailed as good for the environment by community members, but many, like Dahlia Moodie, a business owner in Oakland, believes the plan has the potential to jumpstart an ailing economy.
The Energy and Climate Action Plan was recommended by Garrett Fitzgerald, sustainability coordinator for the city’s Environmental Services Division, and the City Hall staff.
Oakland is not alone. With the approval of the Energy and Climate Action Plan, Oakland joins over 700 U.S. cities that have adopted stronger environmental policies, including San Francisco which enacted the Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Resolution in 2002.
“When our companies have an opportunity to grow, we then have an opportunity to reach out to the community and create jobs,” said Moodie, owner of Energy Conservation Options in Oakland. “We can help people prosper and thrive. We should push for strong policy with a sense of urgency.”
A number of speakers showed patience waiting for the item agenda to come up. When the item came up, close to midnight, councilmembers praised the patience of those still seated holding speaker cards.
Reid acknowledged that environmentally friendly policy wasn’t his strongest suit. His constituents have changed that.
Long term, the plan will help Oakland reduce greenhouse gas levels by 83 percent by 2050, a goal that proves to be a welcome challenge to councilmember President Jane Brunner.
“I’m excited about it,” said Brunner. “I think it’ll be hard. It’ll be exciting.”
Proponents for the Energy and Climate Action Plan believe it will have positive effects for Oakland residents- especially those living in low-income communities.
If targets are met, it would clean up air pollution, create local green-collar jobs in the green industries that help in energy efficiency retrofits, public transportation and recycling, according to Kim.
Thirty-three percent of emissions came from highway transportation, according to a 2005 city report. For many Oakland residents, they might start seeing a rise in bike lanes and more public transportation. Now that the targets of the plan have been approved, it will be up to city hall to find the way to meet those goals.
This is an issue that requires perseverance,” said Rebecca Kaplan, fellow councilmember. “These targets are both aggressive and realistic. They are the amount of greenhouse gas emission reduction necessary to preserve life on earth,” said Kaplan before pausing. “I think we should do that.”
The city has held four public workshops since December 2008. According to Fitzgerald, 200 people attended the workshops, by scientists and community members, for input.
The only change to the proposal was to have annual targets added as well. “It’s to measure whether we have progressed towards our bigger targets,” said Nancy Nadel, District 3 representative.
The plan would be Oakland’s first formal effort to combating greenhouse emissions by establishing goals and looking at where it can reduce green house gasses.
Fitzgerald and city staff are confident they can present the council with a plan that can carry out these goals and targets. That plan will be presented in September.
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