New Berkeley Committee Will Discuss Climate Policy

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin
Tuesday February 26, 2019 - 10:13:00 AM

I strongly support Berkeley's efforts to accelerate our actions to address the climate emergency. I was proud to vote for the June 2018 resolution to officially declare a "climate emergency", and supported the regional Town Hall which was held in August 2018 to discuss solutions. The Council's Ad-Hoc Climate Emergency Subcommittee was originally formed to organize this regional Town Hall and to discuss ways to deepen efforts to fight climate change.

Since that time, the Berkeley City Council has created a new system of Policy Committees. One of the committees, the Facilities, Infrastructure, Transportation, Environment and Sustainability Committee was specifically established to discuss issues around energy efficiency, transportation, green building and climate action. This would be the best place to discuss many of the policy proposals put forward by community members, including moving our energy procurement to 100% renewable. I appreciate the work of the Ad-Hoc Subcommittee, and believe now is the time to continue the discussion at the new Facilities and Environment Committee. Councilmember Cheryl Davila, the author of the Climate Emergency resolution, was appointed to serve on this committee, and I hope that she will continue to convene community members and experts in developing ways to address the cataclysmic crisis of climate change.  

In addition to this Ad-Hoc Committee, Berkeley has advanced several policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move us to a resilient, energy independent future. At the Global Climate Action Summit this past September, Berkeley set a bold goal to reach 100% renewable electricity citywide by 2035 and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In addition, the City of Berkeley has signed on to an electric vehicle purchasing initiative that will provide access to reduced-cost clean energy vehicles and infrastructure and has joined a group of Bay Area cities calling for a ban on the transport of coal through their jurisdictions. We are also exploring requiring a shift from natural gas to electrification, implementing our Deep Green Building initiative to move towards zero net energy construction, adopted a ban on Single Use Disposable Plastic food ware, expanding our bicycle infrastructure, adopted legislation to expand urban farming and food access, and promoting mandatory solar on new buildings. Additionally, the new East Bay Community Energy Authority presents an exciting opportunity to move our energy to 100% renewable sources, and the City Council will soon take up a proposal to opt-up our residential and city accounts to higher renewable content.  

The work does not stop at a Subcommittee meeting, but is being lead by my office and many members of the Council. Community partnerships are essential in continuing this important work. I believe that by working with the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition and many environmental leaders who make Berkeley home, we can continue to show how Berkeley can lead to addressing the biggest challenge of our time.