Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In the dark days of Santa Rosa’s budget crisis, one of the most visible signs of the city’s financial challenges was its decision to turn off thousands of the city’s streetlights.
Between 2009 and 2013, the city either switched off or limited the run time of approximately 4,700 streetlights throughout Santa Rosa, nearly a third of the 15,500 in the city.
It was a controversial program, one that, despite saving the city more than $300,000 per year, was scaled back from its original goal of darkening 10,000 lights following pressure from residents and council members concerned about safety issues.
Now that the city’s budget picture has brightened significantly, it has committed to turn back on all 3,400 lights that were switched off and all 1,300 lights that were placed on timers, which automatically turned the lights off between midnight and 5:30 a.m.
The goal is to have all those lights back on by June 2016, an aggressive target that the City Council funded with an additional $600,000 from a mid-year budget surplus.
Read more via: Santa Rosa turns darkened streetlights back on | The Press Democrat
Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. – Newsroom
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to establish a California greenhouse gas reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most aggressive benchmark enacted by any government in North America to reduce dangerous carbon emissions over the next decade and a half.
“With this order, California sets a very high bar for itself and other states and nations, but it’s one that must be reached – for this generation and generations to come,” said Governor Brown. This executive action sets the stage for the important work being done on climate change by the Legislature.
The Governor’s executive order aligns California’s greenhouse gas reduction targets with those of leading international governments ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year. The 28-nation European Union, for instance, set the same target for 2030 just last October. California is on track to meet or exceed the current target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as established in the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32). California’s new emission reduction target of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 will make it possible to reach the ultimate goal of reducing emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. This is in line with the scientifically established levels needed in the U.S. to limit global warming below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be major climate disruptions such as super droughts and rising sea levels.
Read more via: Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. – Newsroom
International Energy Agency
Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.
“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director.
Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.
The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. In China, 2014 saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.
“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” added Birol. “It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth.”
Read more via March:- Global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide stalled in 2014.
Justin Gillis, NEW YORK TIMES.COM
In decades of public debate about global warming, one assumption has been accepted by virtually all factions: that tackling it would necessarily be costly. But a new report casts doubt on that idea, declaring that the necessary fixes could wind up being effectively free.
A global commission will announce its finding on Tuesday that an ambitious series of measures to limit emissions would cost $4 trillion or so over the next 15 years, an increase of roughly 5 percent over the amount that would likely be spent anyway on new power plants, transit systems and other infrastructure.
When the secondary benefits of greener policies — like lower fuel costs, fewer premature deaths from air pollution and reduced medical bills — are taken into account, the changes might wind up saving money, according to the findings of the group, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
“We are proposing a way to have the same or even more economic growth, and at the same time have environmental responsibility,” said the chairman of the commission, Felipe Calderón, the former president of Mexico and an economist. “We need to fix this problem of climate change, because it’s affecting all of us.”
The commission found that some $90 trillion is likely to be spent over the coming 15 years on new infrastructure around the world. The big challenge for governments is to adopt rules and send stronger market signals that redirect much of that investment toward low-emission options, the report found.
Read more via Fixing Climate Change May Add No Costs, Report Says – NYTimes.com.
Rory Carroll and Leslie Adler, REUTERS
California’s greenhouse gas emissions rose about 2 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year as more natural gas was burned to compensate for the closure of a nuclear plant and a drop in hydro-electricity due to a drought, the state’s air regulator said on Wednesday.
Higher utility sector emissions were offset somewhat by a modest decline in output from the transportation sector, which remains the state’s largest single source of heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions from manufacturers stayed relatively flat despite a 13 percent increase from the cement sector as the state’s eight plants ramped up production.
State air officials said that despite the small overall increase, long-term trends show California is cutting emissions even as the economy recovers from a lengthy recession.
Transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions have fallen 12 percent over the past seven years due in part to a larger number of fuel-efficient vehicles on California roads, regulators said. The Toyota Prius, a hybrid that gets about 50 miles to the gallon, was the best-selling car in California in 2012.
Californian’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 12 percent over the past decade, regulators said.
via California greenhouse gas emissions inch up 2 percent | Reuters.
Julia P. Valentine, U.S. EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today, showing a 3.4 percent decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.
The major contributors to the decrease in emissions from 2011-2012 were the decrease in energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy, and the decrease in carbon intensity for electricity generation due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas. Other factors included a decrease in transportation sector emissions attributed to an increase in fuel efficiency across different transportation modes and limited new demand for passenger transportation.
Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, leading to increased heat-related illnesses and deaths; worsening the air pollution that can cause asthma attacks and other respiratory problems; and expanding the ranges of disease-spreading insects. Climate change is also affecting the frequency and intensity of heat waves, droughts, and other extreme weather events.
via 04/15/2014: EPA Publishes 19th Annual U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory.
Justin Gillis, NYTIMES.COM
Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.
In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.
“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”
via Climate Efforts Falling Short, U.N. Panel Says – NYTimes.com.
It’s official: Solar Sonoma County is now the Solar Action Alliance (SolarActionAlliance.org), a new name reflecting the organization’s expansion to Marin and Napa counties and broadening impact in advancing solar energy at the local level. Solar Sonoma County has become a “chapter” of Solar Action Alliance, which now also includes Solar Marin County and Solar Napa County.
Continue reading “Solar Sonoma County becomes Solar Action Alliance”
Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nearly two years after it launched amid national media attention, Santa Rosa’s Ygrene Energy Fund has financed its first projects for making older buildings green.
The company, which fashioned its business after a program pioneered by the County of Sonoma, is providing financing and administration to retrofit homes and commercial buildings in Sacramento and Miami. The public/private programs allow property owners to install solar electric systems and other energy- and water-saving improvements, with borrowers repaying the debt on their property tax bills.
via Ygrene seeks green in energy retrofits | The Press Democrat.
Climate Protection Campaign
Sonoma Clean Power, the county initiative to purchase greener electricity, comes back to the Board for a vote on April 23rd. Topics include potential rates, start-up financing, and marketing services. Please attend and show support.
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Eleven bidders compete to provide power to Sonoma County