When Albany acknowledged the growing threat of climate change and its impact on our City, they began by drafting our first Climate Action Plan. That plan outlined a goal of achieving a reduction in emissions by 25% by 2020 and has now exceeded that goal by reducing emissions by 27%. Way to go!
Now comes the harder work of the City and the Climate Advocates to achieve the more ambitious long-term goals of 60% GHG reductions by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050. And with a lot of the low-hanging fruit gone, the Committee has co-authored a new plan for the City and we need to make sure that it's thoughtful and ambitious enough to help us meet our goals.
It's hot! On average throughout the last century, there were only one to two days per year over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the area. This has jumped to six days per year on average already this century. Where will it stop? Will it stop? That is the question for the Action part of the Plan. What will we do in the meantime or if it does not stop? That is the question for the adaptation part of the Plan and public support is key in adopting an effective plan.
So that's where you come in! The DRAFT 2019 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan is now available for public review. The City is soliciting public comment from the community at this time. The public comment period is open until July 19 - THIS FRIDAY. At the very least respond to the City's survey with your feedback by then.
Give the plan a read. But in case you're not sure what to comment on, ACAC has put together these highlights for you to consider in your own commentary:
We're fans of a lot of the plan: especially those supporting utility user tax reform and investing in infrastructure and requirements for car charging, efficient heating and building out a renewable grid. We are particularly fond of "investing in electrification financing programs such as on-bill financing and metered energy efficiency," "an incentive program for electrification,"an increase in Utility User Tax for natural gas" and requiring "all-electric energy in existing and new buildings." Voicing your support for these key programs will help bolster their prominence and support the City in forging ahead with these changes.
Carbon Free Albany is insufficient on its own for shifting citizen behavior. Additional planning will be required in order to shift behavior and overall there were very few incentives planned or offered or a clear strategy for driving adoption with Carbon Free Albany. For example, working with the California Vehicle Rebate Program to find a way for Albany to offer its own modest rebate or incentives for electrifying and retrofitting homes. These incentives have been proven to drive adoption of new behaviors. Additionally, taxes on undesirable behavior could help to get reluctant homeowners or landlords to make the necessary changes.
What about a certification program for all those contractors, designers, and businesses that the City plans on training? Either creating a program or partnering with organizations that are already providing this sort of certification so that training leads to business benefit and adoption.
There are more options for resiliency, such as cool roofs and cool pavement where tree shading does not exist or cannot be created and converting underutilized city spaces into green spaces. The city might need to explore more new offerings and new technologies to supplement this part of the plan.
When it comes to the plan's content, additional information about how it will work with other businesses, governments, and community groups would be nice. Page 22-23 of the plan mentions organizations that they will partner with for success, but doesn't mention how or where these organizations will come into play. Some clarity here would be helpful.
In terms of setting expectations and creating urgency, many felt that this plan required some sort of timeline. The CAAP should directly address and outline these strategies along a clear timeline with specific milestones and metrics stated to assess progress.
And in terms of communicating the urgency, the illustration of the threat to Albany seems insufficient. For example, on the lists of related climate hazards (like increased risk of wildfire or flooding), the City doesn't even mention the decrease in air quality. And although the City acknowledges the prevalence and importance of climate impacts, it doesn't bring it home to talk about specific areas or visualize those impacts in ways that everyone can picture or understand.
To submit public comment, please do (at least) one of the following:
Provide comments directly to Elizabeth Carrade at: firstname.lastname@example.org | (510) 528-5762
Complete the public comment survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CAAPDraft
Deliver handwritten comments or mail comments to: Attn: Elizabeth Carrade | Community Development Department | 1000 San Pablo Avenue, Albany CA 94706
Attend an upcoming public meeting at City Hall (1000 San Pablo Avenue): Climate Action Committee: TONIGHT! July 17, 7:30PM
After all, as concerned and active citizens we need to work together to influence change. we'll need to switch buildings, cars, and appliances to sustainably generated electricity. We need to consider how rising temperatures and hotter summer weather will lead to greater use of air conditioning and electric heat-pump HVAC systems will be essential in addressing these new energy loads in an efficient and sustainable manner. All of Albany must work closely with our CCA electrical energy provider (EBCE) and distributor (PG&E) to develop locally generated solar energy and methods for distributed storage to make the local grid smarter and more resilient not only during normal evening peak times but during heat waves, wild fire related outages, and disaster interruptions such as strong storms and earthquakes. This approach requires local legislation and policies that are equitable and tailored to reward and incentivize rapid change to reduced carbon emission. And that means honest and collaborative discussion with citizens, city staff, businesses and beyond to meet these ambitious and essential goals.