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City Council in Greening Frenzy

In a frantic scramble last night to out-green each other, Richmond City Council members passed a trio of policies guaranteed to render Richmond in a brighter shade of green.

·         Item G-18 was adoption of an ordinance adding chapter 6.45 to the city of Richmond Municipal Code establishing green building requirements for city building projects. This was introduced by Mayor Mclaughlin, Councilmember Butt, and Planning Director Richard Mitchell.

·         Study Session, Item A, was to discuss and direct staff to develop comprehensive city policy to creatively and aggressively lead by example in the fight to end global warming, introduced by Councilmember Rogers.

·         Study Session, Item B, was to discuss and direct staff to work with the Goldman School of Public Policy (Goldman School) to conduct a study to review existing ordinances and policies that are designed to reduce the city's impact on the environment and provide recommendations for making the city's operations more sustainable. The study will also include education and outreach recommendations encouraging Richmond residents and businesses to adopt sustainable practices. This was introduced by Councilmembers Lopez and Sandhu.

In discussion of item A, the City Council included a short amendment from Mayor Mclaughlin, directing staff to “ develop a comprehensive city policy to creatively and aggressively lead by example in the fight to end global warming and craft a policy that adopts AB 32’s benchmarks as a citywide goal.”


This is an historic declaration for Richmond and perhaps for the entire country. Preliminary checks indicate that Richmond may be the first city in the U.S. that has passed something this visionary.  Many other cities have set goals to meet the Kyoto numbers (http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/climate/) through the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and counties across the country are starting to join in by setting 80% reduction goal by 2050 (http://www.metrokc.gov/exec/news/2007/0716coolcounties.aspx).


Scientists overwhelmingly agree that in order to prevent the most devastating consequences of global warming, such as a 90% loss of California’s Sierra snow pack, global warming emissions worldwide must be significantly reduced. Many scientists agree that reductions must be on the order of 80% by mid-century.


I’d like thank my fellow councilmembers for their support of these initiatives, and I encourage anyone who shares my enthusiasm to write a thank-you note to councilmembers for their leadership and vision.


Below is some information on AB 32.


Background on AB 32


In response to warnings from the scientific community, the state of California has shown national and international leadership in committing to reduce its global warming emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 (11% below business as usual), to 1990 levels by 2020 (25% below business as usual), and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  Existing policies, such as California’s landmark global warming emissions standard for vehicles and renewable energy and efficiency requirements will move the state half-way toward meeting the 2020 target. Additional policies are essential to get us the rest of the way there.


AB 32 was passed by the state legislature on August 31, 2006. AB 32 set in place the nation’s most comprehensive, economy-wide global warming emissions reduction program.  This reduction will be accomplished through an enforceable statewide cap on global warming emissions that will be phased in starting in 2012. In order to effectively implement the cap, AB 32 directs the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop appropriate regulations and establish a mandatory reporting system to track and monitor global warming emissions levels. CARB is also the agency that will enforce the new regulations.


By January 1, 2008, CARB must adopt regulations creating a statewide global warming emissions reporting and monitoring system. The largest emitters will be required to report their emissions on an annual basis.