January 17, 2017

Air District moves on greenhouse-gas reductions

In November, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District passed the Climate Protection Resolution on a unanimous vote. The Resolution commits the Air District to lead the Bay Area in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2050.

Why this specific, sharp, reduction? Because it’s an international standard; the reduction that scientists believe is necessary to keep global warming to less than 2° C. A 2° rise, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is an “upper limit” for avoiding dangerous changes in the climate. (New research indicates that even stronger emissions reductions may be needed; studies are continuing.)

Unfortunately, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide are still rising, by an average of 3% a year. To meet the new commitment, the Bay Area will need to reduce emissions–by about 3% a year until 2020, and 5% a year after that. This will not only cut greenhouse gases; other pollution will drop dramatically.

Success in the Bay Area will show the rest of the world how they, too, can cut emissions and pollution, while making the Bay Area a leader in climate policy and technology.

The Air District has created a Work Plan to begin the process, and is working on a Climate Action Strategy to support the steady strong reductions needed to meet the resolution’s goal.

We are worried, however, whether the District will live up to its commitment. The District has taken innovative steps to reduce pollution, but recently we have heard public comments from District leadership about what it can’t do.

Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and the Bay Area has a unique and historic opportunity to lead on solutions. We need the Air District to carry out its groundbreaking commitment–and bring others on board in helping to solve this problem, locally and globally.


Contact your city councilmembers and county supervisors asking that your city and county work with the Air District to implement 80% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. Raise this issue in public comments at meetings and talk to your elected representatives individually. The specific reduction target is important; anything less is certain to be inadequate.

You can also join BayCAP (the Bay Climate Action Plan), a campaign of 350 Bay Area partnering with the Sierra Club and other local environmental groups, at www.350bayarea.org/bay_climate_action_plan. BayCAP needs people all around the Bay Area to work regionally and in 350 Bay Area’s local groups.

Floyd Smith

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