City Council Approves Implementation of Historic Climate Action Plan

Plan involves wide-ranging implementation of five strategies, 27 measures, and 142 actions to reduce carbon emissions

Published : Wednesday, March 7, 2018 | 6:56 AM

City Council Approves Implementation of Historic Climate Action Plan

Joining 62 U.S. cities which have set targets to meet the federal goal of a 26-27 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by the year 2025, the Pasadena City Council Monday approved a resolution to adopt the Pasadena Climate Action Plan.

The wide-ranging, historic plan would amend the Pasadena Municipal Code to place the City’s Environmental Advisory Commission in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Plan.

Although the plan passed and earned high praise from some Councilmembers, some residents who spoke before the Council were far less enthusiastic.

“As someone who’s connected within the environmental community in this city, I think that it’s a great disappointment and lacks vision and inspiration for new ideas, new efforts to move our city forward on sustainability and specifically climate response,” said one local.

Both Mayor Terry Tornek and Vice Mayor John Kennedy supported the plan.

“This is extraordinary work from our staff and consultants,” said Councilmember John Kennedy, advocating for the resolution’s passage.

Kennedy also said that any attempt not to move forward with the plan citing ‘limited resources,’ would not be valid, since “the Planning Department is one department where there is revenue flowing.”

“The staff took the recommendations of the Municipal Services Committee very well. This is a compilation of all the various City departments and all their plans in one blueprint, so we know where we are going. This is an essential work tool for the EAC (Environmental Advisory Commission),” said Councilmember Margaret McAustin.

According to the Planning Department staff report, which was presented by Planning Department Director David Reyes and Senior Planner Anita Cerna, “Climate change presents Pasadena with both challenges and opportunities. During the past decade, Pasadena has pursued a variety of programs and policies that promote alternative modes of transportation, increase energy efficiency of new buildings, expand recycling, ban plastic bags and polystyrene products, and conserve natural resources to proactively reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.”

The climate action plan, as described in the staff report, sets forth a strategy that “builds upon existing programs and policies that address climate change, identifies where these existing efforts can be expanded.

“It ultimately establishes a roadmap that not only enables the City to reach the State’s reduction targets called forth under Executive Order S-3- 05, Assembly Bill AB 32, and Senate Bill SB 32, but is also consistent with the State’s climate strategy,” said Cerna.

The Climate Action Plan’s strategies were developed based on three major factors—consideration of the reductions needed to meet state-wide targets and local goals, the sources and distribution of emissions revealed in the GHG inventory, and the existing programs, policies and resources of Pasadena.

The Climate Action Plan is also subject to future revisions as new technologies emerge and State legislation are adopted.

Pasadena’s Climate Action Plan is divided into five strategies, 27 measures, and 142 actions that have the potential to reduce local GHG emissions from community-wide activities of residents, businesses, and municipal operations.

Among the various strategies and actions for the Plan are analyzing the City’s Greenhouse gas emission levels and identifies major contributors; establishing a baseline from which future GHG emissions will be compared; to set local reduction goals and develop a strategy consistent with California’s targets consistent with AB 32, SB 32, and EO S-3-05; identifying existing and new programs to achieve reductions; monitoring and evaluating their progress.

Pasadena adopted a Green City Action Plan in 2006, and compiled a “green team” to oversee the plan’s sustainability goals and develop a sustainability program.

“This plan perfectly encapsulates all of the original work and plans of that team,” said Mayor Terry Tornek.

The sustainability program continues throughout several City departments and includes work programs such as Public Works’ Zero Waste Strategic Plan, Pasadena Water and Power’s Power Integrated Resources Plan, and Department of Transportation’s Bicycle Transportation Action Plan.

The timeframe for the CAP extends from the date of adoption through the year 2035, consistent with the horizon year of the 2015 General Plan.

A community-wide inventory of GHG emissions was prepared for the year 2009 to establish a baseline, or a reference point, from which the City could set future emissions reduction goals and measure progress. The 2009 baseline inventory accounts for emissions in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MT C02e) resulting from four sectors: energy, transportation, water, and solid waste.

MT C02e is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from different greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP).

In 2009, community-wide GHG emissions were approximately 2,044,921 MT C02e. The transportation sector accounted for the largest portion of emissions, contributing approximately 52 percent of the community-wide total. Energy use was the second largest producer of emissions, contributing approximately 47 percent of the community- wide total.

Based on Pasadena’s adjusted forecast, community-wide emission is forecasted to be 1,671,934 MTC02e by 2020 (approximately four percent below the state-wide target). It is forecasted that community-wide emissions will continue to decline over the next few decades and by 2050 emissions are forecasted to be 1,262,573 MTC02e.

According to the Planning Department presentation, if no additional actions are taken, the City will likely fall short of meeting the state-wide targets for the years 2030 and 2050 by approximately 365,153 MT C02e and up to 957,151 MT C02e, respectively.

The CAP also identifies five principal strategies to achieve the City’s GHG reduction goals for the years 2020, 2030, and 2035—Sustainable Mobility and Land Use, Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Water Conservation, Waste Reduction, and Urban Greening.

The transportation and energy sectors offer the most reduction potential, according to the report. A significant proportion of Pasadena’s residential buildings were built more than 30 years ago, prior to the adoption of California’s energy efficiency standards.

“Considerable opportunities exist to reduce energy consumption, utilize energy more efficiently, and increase use of renewable energy within these structures,” the report added.

The Climate Action Plan also contains 142 implementation actions that are ambitious, yet attainable and include a combination of ordinances, policies, programs, and incentives, as well as outreach and educational activities.

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