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Council meeting: Continued action to combat climate changes discussed

Council meeting: Continued action to combat climate changes discussed

Published April 27, 2022
Council meeting: Continued action to combat climate changes discussed

Wei-Tai Kwok was a City Council member and brought good news to the April 11th meeting. It also called for continued action to ensure that the city of Lafayette is taking steps to mitigate the growing environmental and health threats arising from climate change. He said that Lafayette is joining cities across the country in slowing down the climate crisis through simple strategic initiatives like “Electrify All” and, specifically, in Lafayette, municipal solutions that include the residential, commercial, and transportation sectors.

Kwok praised the adoption of MCE as a primary source of energy for many Lafayette families and said it is important to continue such progress. MCE was adopted by the city in 2016. Lafayette residents used 68% of that electricity in 2016. Kwok stated that Lafayette residents will enjoy 98-100% of the carbon-free electricity offered by MCE by 2020. This rate of clean energy use is “a remarkable achievement that comes 23-years earlier than Gov. Jerry Brown’s SB100 California law, which requires all cities to use 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045, is Jerry Brown’s.

A 2015 study found that three-quarters (75%) of the city’s greenhouse gases were caused by transportation emissions, primarily Highway 24. The remaining quarter percent was from homes and buildings. Kwok said that California’s result of global warming is drought. He also noted that the San Francisco Chronicle had called California’s current condition a mega-drought. Kwok also mentioned that 94% of California is currently experiencing severe or extreme drought.

What can Lafayette do to reduce the use of fossil fuels? Kwok observed that in 2014, electricity from solar, wind, and coal was less expensive than energy produced by gas and coal plants in 1% of the globe. It was still cheaper in two-thirds the world five years later. Kwok’s estimates that solar and wind energy will be affordable enough to supply the entire globe with energy by 2024. Kwok stated that the greatest gains can be made in the transportation sector.

Vision Zero (partially, by making it safer to bike and to walk in the city); the Housing Element; by making sure multifamily homes have an electrical vehicle charger and other means; and improvements related to the Downtown/Mt Diablo Corridor Specific Plan.

Kwok suggested that you can reduce your carbon footprint by replacing gas furnaces. He has converted his home using these solutions, a process he said took only 45 days to complete, and ended on a celebratory note with his calling PG&E to come to his home to take away the gas meter.

Kwok closed his presentation by highlighting a 2019 achievement. 47 cities in Northern California adopted electrification-building ordinances. He said that Lafayette can go all-electric. With the ordinances and proposals currently under review by the planning commissioner, public comment is valuable on ordinances. “In some respects, Lafayette has many options for reducing greenhouse gas emission and reliance upon fossil fuels. Lafayette can make the climate crisis less of a problem by implementing the (solutions) proposed. He suggested that the city was already making a positive difference and is moving on all fronts.

Lynda, a former mayor in Moraga and an environmental scientist who worked with Contra Costa Climate Leaders, said, “Cities have so many things they can do to address this issue and make the future brighter for next generations.” In terms of what they are doing, Lafayette ranks ninth in the county. She suggested that council members look at eight other cities for ideas on what can be done. Adopting a Climate Emergency Resolution is one of the options. This creates an independent measure and an official statement for environmental justice in the city. Other policies can then be determined.

Nancy Hu, who is a volunteer on the Environmental Task Force of the city, strongly supports the conversion to solar power. The group welcomed input from the public at its Earth Day webinar on April 22, regarding the options the city is considering to transition away from fossil fuels to all electric energy in the city’s buildings. She hopes residents will support measures currently being reviewed and approved by the council.

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