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Fluorescent Light Bulbs, Controlling Electricity Sources Lauded at Community Meeting

Tuesday May 22, 2007

By Judith Scherr 


The mayor’s kick-off event aimed at cutting local greenhouse gas emissions brought almost 150 people—most of them already active in the fight against global warming—to the South Berkeley Senior Center Saturday morning to network and hear speakers talk about walking lighter on the planet.  

Berkeley resident, comedian and environmentalist Josh Kornbluth served as MC. 

Introduced by her husband, Mayor Tom Bates, Assemblymember Loni Hancock lauded AB 32, which requires a statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. “Now our task is to implement the bill,” Hancock told the crowd. 

Timothy Burroughs, recently hired by the city to plan the local emission reduction effort, pointed out that half of the city’s emissions come from vehicles. (The statistics exclude freeway emissions, he said.) Residents contribute about 26 percent of the city’s greenhouse gases and businesses emit 27 percent, he noted.  

Tom Kelly, director of Kyoto USA, a grassroots effort to encourage U.S. cities to actively address global warming, spoke to the Planet after briefly addressing the gathering.  

Kelly said that while the room was mostly filled with committed environmentalists talking to each other, the mutual support would sustain future efforts to “reach out more deeply” to yet uncommitted people in the community.  

The next step is to take the question of greenhouse gas reduction to various commissions to get input into the effort, he said. The Community Environmental Advisory Commission is tentatively scheduled to discuss the question at its June 6 meeting at 7 p.m., 2118 Milvia St. 

While some ideas cost relatively little, such as the effort to get people to use compact fluorescent light bulbs, large-scale ideas are expensive. “We might have to tax ourselves,” Kelly said. 

For example, one costly suggestion Kelly raised would be to put solar panels on every building in the city. 

The city plan, which the council is expected to adopt at the end of the year, will likely designate choices among possible projects. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington briefly addressed the gathering, supporting the concept of creating a free bus pass for workers on Telegraph Avenue, similar to the eco-pass that has reduced city worker dependence on the automobile. 

Worthington also talked about developing a “zero waste” facility, where all items “dumped” at the transfer station would be reused. 

Another effort the city might decide to fund is Community Choice Aggregation, which was put forward at the Saturday event by a nonprofit called “Bay Localize.” CCA would be a partnership among Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville to sell electricity to residents of the three cities. A plan for CCA is moving toward implementation in San Francisco and is being discussed by the Energy Commission, which will present CCA options to the City Council in the fall.  


Photograph by Judith Scherr 

Josh Kornbluth, comedian, environmentalist and Berkeley resident was the MC for Saturday’s community meeting on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.