Public has chance to speak out on actions included in plan

By Steve Maxey

Maxey,Steve-webHow much does our everyday driving and switch-flipping affect our climate? What can Morgan Hill do as a community to reduce those impacts?

These questions are the core of the city’s Climate Action Plan, a document that will serve as Morgan Hill’s roadmap for addressing climate change. The scientific community has identified global warming as an issue of growing concern. An increasing amount of evidence shows that much of this warming is the result of an escalated level of greenhouse gases generated by burning fossil fuels and clearing forests; and it threatens to impact the way we live, the food we grow, the availability of water, wildlife and much more.

The State of California has been a leader in developing legislation leading to climate change solutions. The Global Warming Solutions Act (Assembly Bill 32, passed in 2006), is one of the most important pieces of legislation for GHG reduction. The bill establishes a near-term goal of GHG reductions to year 1990 levels by 2020, and a medium-term goal of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The state has followed this legislation with a number of its own actions that have resulted in significant reductions, while identifying local agencies as “essential partners” within the overall statewide effort.

In 2011, Morgan Hill added Conservation Action 7.10 to its General Plan, requiring adoption of a CAP consistent with AB32 goals. Since then, Morgan Hill has been involved in a regional effort culminating in a plan that will be custom-tailored to the city’s emissions and needs. The CAP will look at major GHG emissions sources, including energy use, water management, transportation, land use and solid waste management. Snapshots called “inventories” of community-wide emissions are used to establish a baseline around which to plan. Early GHG inventories have shown that energy use and automobile-related transportation are the city’s two largest emissions sectors, each generating more than 40 percent of the city’s total GHG emissions.

The city is now in the process of working with the community to develop reduction measures – the “actions” of the CAP, and the tools that will be the most efficient and effective in reducing GHG emissions. These tools could include outreach and education programs, incentives for home solar installation, or provision of public plug-in electric vehicle charging stations, just to name a few examples.

While we work with stakeholders in our business, development, and environmental advocacy communities, it is important that we hear from you. A brief online survey – accessible via the city’s web page and live until June 13 – is collecting data on community involvement and support for potential measures. Our city council and city staff will rely on this survey data to make decisions on which measures are most desired by the community, and how to have the greatest impact as we move forward as a city.

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Once the survey has closed, city staff will develop a draft Climate Action Plan to present at a city council meeting later this year. There will be several more opportunities for community input, and everyone at City Hall would like to urge you to get involved in any way – take the survey, write a letter, or give us a call. City staff are excited to work with our neighbors on shaping Morgan Hill’s sustainable future.

The online survey can be accessed at www.surveymonkey.com/s/MorganHillCAP.

If you would like more information about the Climate Action Plan, call me at (408)310-4667, or email me at [email protected]

Marty Cheek