Today: Atherton looks at ambitious climate action plan

Study says town has highest carbon footprint in Bay Area

Details about an ambitious climate action plan that could allow Atherton to cut back on its greenhouse gas emissions by much more than the state is requiring will be discussed in a City Council study session on Wednesday, Feb. 3, starting an hour earlier than usual, at 3 p.m.

A study published by University of California, Berkeley researchers in December said that Atherton has the highest carbon footprint of any city in the Bay Area when looked at using a consumption-based model (see note below).

Council members looked at the proposed climate action plan at a November study session, but asked for more details about the plan's elements, including the costs and benefits, both to the town and to homeowners. They later approved paying a consultant to come up with those details.

The Feb. 3 meeting, which will also include discussion of a work plan for the town's Environmental Programs Committee, will be held in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

The staff report on the plan recommended by Atherton's Environmental Programs Committee shows that putting the plan into action could require the town to hire someone at least half time.

In November, the council was told the proposed plan would reduce Atherton's greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020 and by 50 percent by 2030. The recommendations go far beyond a 2007 state law that requires each municipality to show how it will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

The proposal includes a measure that would require all new buildings to be "zero net energy" by generating as much energy as they use. It would apply to all new residential and commercial buildings, including the civic center now under design.

In addition, the plan proposes adding electric vehicle charging spaces, recapturing rain water, and composting yard waste and other organics locally.

Note: The UC Berkeley study was based on household consumption, and counted greenhouse gases produced elsewhere when goods and services are consumed locally. The estimates were based on factors such as household size, income, lot size and statistics about typical consumer behavior.

— Barbara Wood

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