Friday, March 27, 2008|There has been a lot of discussion over global climate change and the need to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. The world community, and more recently our nation, has shifted the debate from why to how much we need to reduce emissions to have a meaningful impact on the continued warming of our planet.

The federal government is currently deciding on how best to address the problem. In June, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to consider mandating a 70 percent reduction by 2050. And all leading candidates for president agree that drastic reductions in greenhouse gas production are needed, but differ on what size cut would be technically possible and economically feasible. California has already taken major steps by adopting landmark legislation that caps emissions to 1990 levels over the next 12 years.

There are a number of factors that have led to the current transformation of social and political consciousness. For one, researchers have determined that the earth has already experienced a 1.4-degree warming from pre-industrial era average temperatures. Perhaps more alarming is that the world’s population produces more than 10 billion tons of carbon each year with output rising annually.

It’s this kind of data that caused the city of Chula Vista to sign on with the terms of the historic Kyoto Protocol that pledges to reduce the earth’s greenhouse gas emissions. But we haven’t stopped there. Chula Vista has decreased our own city’s GHG output levels by 50 percent compared to 1990 — exceeding the 20 percent by 2010 goal.

The city has achieved this milestone by installing more energy efficient traffic lights and building fixtures in our municipal structures. Moreover, we manage the demand for energy in all our facilities and equipment. New renewable energy standards and better resource stewardship like recycling and greener purchasing practices will help us to achieve our goal.

Over the next several years the city will focus on translating this success into community-wide emissions reduction efforts with energy efficiency programs for residences and businesses, pedestrian-focused redevelopment, alternative transportation, and other greenhouse gas-reducing programs and policies. 

Chula Vista was the first city in the world with a population of less than one million to join the UN Climate Change Council and become a member of the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. As members of ICLEI, we are able to cull the most effective implementation programs from throughout the world and use those proven actions to successfully meet Chula Vista’s community goals.

Last year, I helped convene the Chula Vista Climate Change Working Group, a body of community residents, business leaders and stakeholders tasked with updating the Carbon Reduction Plan that ensures that we meet citywide 2010 emission reduction goals. Since energy generation is such a large emitter of GHG, our Working Group has been investigating strategies that include building standards that decrease electricity demand in new construction.

I support the Climate Change Working Group’s belief that energy code and green building standards will maximize energy efficiency throughout the city. The efficacy of green building standards and local energy code requirements are easy to measure and will decrease Chula Vista’s power consumption in order to meet the 20 percent reduction goal by 2010.

Chula Vista has a history of responsible leadership in energy policy. I embrace the opportunity to lead the region by being the first city in the county to adopt mandatory green building policies for the development of our community. We owe nothing less to the children of our city. Generations of Chula Vistans are counting on us.

Steve Castaneda is a Chula Vista City Councilman. What do you think of what he wrote? Send a letter to the editor.

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