Tonight is the fifth Tuesday of the month. Normally, that means the Oakland City Council would have the night off. But not tonight!
No, tonight, they have scheduled a special workshop to deal with a pressing issue facing the City — climate change.
36% GHG Reduction by 2020
So, the Council is very concerned about greenhouse gas emissions. Last summer, the same time as they were voting to downzone two major streets in the Central Business District so that you can build no more than six stories on highly developable land in this middle of a major regional transit hub, they also told staff to make a plan that would allow Oakland to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 36% below 2005 levels by 2020. That is 10 years away.
So this plan is going to be released on Earth Day (April 22nd), and you will have opportunities to weigh in at public workshops and on the City’s website during May and June. But for those of you who just can’t wait, you can get a preview with the presentation about the Oakland Energy and Climate Action Plan (ECAP) at the special Council meeting tonight.
Also, if you just can’t stand to wait until 5:30, all the powerpoint slides are already there for you to read in the agenda report (PDF). Basically, the recommendation is that we approach this goal through a three of different arenas.
Land Use & Transportation
In terms of land use & transportation, the ECAP has concluded that we should do the following:
- Develop citywide transportation plan for all modes of transportation
- Support a Transportation Impact Fee
- Tailor parking options to reduce driving
- Support low carbon fuels and vehicles
Also, people should bike or walk or take transit to work instead of driving, and use fuel efficient vehicles and live near transit.
Building Energy Use
Of course, cars are not the only way we use energy. Lots of energy gets used when we buildings and so on. In terms of reducing that, the ECAP recommends:
- Provide ongoing energy retrofit programs, including technical support, incentives, financing and workforce development
- Adopt superior building energy standards (e.g. via Green Building Ordinance)
- Advance use of renewable energy
We can meet the 36% goal in relationship to building energy if we retrofit half of Oakland’s residential properties and get all businesses to improve their energy efficiency by 20%
Materials & Waste
Now, we should be way ahead on this one anyway, since we already have a Zero Waste by 2020 plan. But we can always do more. ECAP recommends:
- Redesign the city’s solid waste management system
- Preserve industrial areas for zero waste industry
- Expand the Construction & Demolition Recycling Ordinance
- Support producer product responsibility
- Promote local manufacturing with recycled materials
Citizens can help out by buying only what they need. Okay. I am not entirely clear on how to reconcile that goal with our big plan to bring Nordstroms and other destination comparison goods retail to Broadway, but whatever.
Does it matter?
No offense to all the people who put a lot of time and work into the climate action plan, but no. Personally, I do believe that the City should do more to reduce emissions and energy use. And I believe that many of the steps suggested in the plan are smart ways to do that.
But the City is already full of smart plans and policies about transit first and livability and development and smart growth and so on and so on. The problem is not a lack of plans or policies telling us what we should be doing. The problem is that the Council lacks the stomach to follow them. It’s very easy to talk about how much you are against climate change and want to reduce energy consumption. It is not so easy to do anything meaningful about it.
Wait, no. I take that back. It is actually super easy to do something about it. You just have to be willing to suck it up and accept that it might, you know, involve some inconvenience. You cannot radically reduce energy consumption while keeping everything about the City and everything about your lifestyle exactly as it is now. And as far as I can tell, keeping everything the same is the only thing the Council wants to do. Anyway.
Oh, also I guess they are going to talk about community choice aggregation.
Meeting starts at 5:30 tonight (PDF). I will not be tweeting this one, but I bet some other people will be. Just search the hashtag #oakmtg. Also, you can catch the action on KTOP, which you can find live on Comcast Channel 10 or streaming online.