Brown Challenges Local Government to Lead Global Warming Fight

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
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OAKLAND--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today met with more than two hundred local officials, challenging them to “take the lead” in the fight against global warming.

“Climate change threatens our way of life,' Attorney General Brown said. 'In the absence of national leadership, local government must take the lead in bringing about a low-carbon future.”

At the request of Attorney General Brown, scientists, local planners and elected officials convened at a one-day workshop at the State Office Building at 1515 Clay Street in downtown Oakland to discuss specific steps that can be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California.

This is the first in a series of five local workshops that will take place in Sacramento, Visalia, Los Angeles and Monterey. Representatives of the Attorney General's Office and the Governor's Climate Action Team will brief local officials about how government at all levels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown addressed the local officials, stressing the urgent need to combat climate disruption by setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Mary Nichols, Chair of the California Air Resources Board, discussed local government’s key role California’s plan to fight global climate change.

During today's workshop, local government will learn how to model greenhouse gas emissions and to design emissions inventories that can improve local planning decisions. Other topics on the agenda included:

• How cities and counties should analyze the global warming-related impacts of planning and land use decisions
• Mitigation strategies local governments should employ to reduce emissions
• How cities and counties can efficiently analyze emissions

The Global Warming Solutions Act, AB 32, requires California to cut greenhouse gas emission to 1990 levels by 2020, but the rules and market mechanisms will not take effect until 2012. Meanwhile, local government will make hundreds, if not thousands, of planning decisions that will have decades-long implications. Brown has called upon local officials to take action now to limit long-term greenhouse gas emissions.

To date, Attorney General Brown has submitted nearly thirty comment letters, under the California Environmental Quality Act, on local projects that have the potential to emit large quantities of greenhouse gas emissions. The Act, signed into law by Governor Reagan in 1970, requires state and local agencies to evaluate significant environmental impacts of proposed projects and adopt all feasible measures to mitigate those impacts.

As a result of Brown’s comment letters, local governments are taking action to reduce greenhouse through planning and land use decisions. The City of Berkeley, for example, is preparing to fund solar projects with public monies and allow property owners to repay the city through property tax assessments.

Other greenhouse gas mitigation strategies being employed across California include:

• High-density developments that reduce vehicle trips and utilize public transit.
• Electric vehicle charging facilities and conveniently located alternative fueling stations.
• Regional transportation centers where various types of public transportation meet.
• Energy efficient design for buildings, appliances, lighting and office equipment.
• Solar panels, water reuse systems and on-site renewable energy production.
• Carbon emissions credit purchases that fund alternative energy projects.

In addition, over one hundred and twenty California cities have joined the Cool Cities campaign which commits the local jurisdictions to take concrete steps to fight global warming including the development of greenhouse gas emissions inventories.

In July 2007, Alameda County became one of twelve charter members of the Cool Counties initiative. Participating counties inventory their greenhouse gas emissions levels and create a plan to cut emissions 80% below current levels by 2050.

Attorney General Brown frequently updates the California Department of Justice Website to provide information that helps local agencies join the fight against global warming:

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