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May 21, 2010 > Climate Action Plan progresses

Climate Action Plan progresses

By Shavon Walker

Many people have heard of the "greenhouse effect" which arises when the sun's heat is trapped between the Earth's surface and layers atmospheric gases. The effect occurs naturally but is exacerbated by the increase in carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, comprising methane and other elements, by industrial facilities and cars. These emissions make the atmosphere warmer, triggering climate change. Consequently, over time, the Earth's temperature rises. According to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), California's Spring snow pack is decreasing while the sea level is starting to rise. Higher waters will affect San Francisco Bay and could endanger cities bordering the Bay and beyond.

By 2020, the state's greenhouse gas levels must be reduced to 1999 levels, as per AB 32 (Global Warming Solutions Act 2006). This represents a 30 percent decrease in emissions. Alameda County is one of the few, nationally, in which every city has compiled a baseline emission inventory which allows the county to determine exactly where it is in terms of meeting statutory requirements.

As a result of the greenhouse effect and AB 32, the state has created a number of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions cost-effectively. These include the cap and trade program, clean car standards, energy efficiency standards and programs, and land use and community design.

"You benefit by reducing your emissions but there are certain businesses that can't reduce or eliminate their emissions because of the nature of their operations," explained Union City Planning Manager Carmela Campbell.

SB 375 (Land Use and Transportation Bill 2008) also attempts to help by encouraging less use of cars.

"It seeks to provide attractive, workable, sustainable communities with access to public transit," stated Campbell. "Transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and single-occupancy vehicle trips are probably the largest contributor next to diesel emissions."

Agencies such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and BCDC are collaborating on developing a Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) which, according to Campbell, will help eliminate the number of miles driven in single-occupancy vehicles. Union City's Intermodal Station District is a prime example of such a strategy.

"We're locating a high-density unit in a mixed use area. We're trying to put mixed use together to dissuade people from driving to the dry cleaners or the grocery store and we're putting it next to public transit, eliminating the need for a car at all," added Campbell.

Last year, Council voted to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The Climate Action Plan (CAP) helps create smaller goals for the community to meet this major one. Implementing and monitoring the Climate Action Plan are the last two steps.

Waste water, transportation and land use, energy efficiency, waste reduction and green infrastructure are the areas of focus. Ideas include neighborhood commercial centers, ride sharing, reducing single-occupancy lanes, increasing parking fees and providing information to developers and builders about energy-efficiency programs. They will be presented at a community meeting for their public input.

The Climate Action Plan Task Force, consisting of community members and staff, has been meeting since December and reviewed the CAP's proposed measures on May 13. The community meeting is scheduled for May 26 at 6 p.m. at the Ruggieri Senior Center, and another is tentatively scheduled for September. The consulting team will evaluate the feedback from the first meeting then prepare a draft version of the CAP for further review by the Task Force.

For more information, visit and click on the "Going Green in Union City" icon. An online Climate Action Plan Survey is also available on the page, with prizes available for those complete it. Additional information is available through Facebook at "Green in Union City" and at

Climate Action Plan Community Meeting
Wednesday, May 26
6 p.m.
Ralph & Mary Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 675-5316

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