EL CERRITO -- The city has drafted a plan to make itself more energy efficient and contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gases released into the environment.

The document, nearly seven years in the making and released Tuesday, aims to meet a City Council mandate to reduce greenhouse emissions from city and private sources from 2005 levels by 15 percent in 2020 and 30 percent by 2035.

City government has the regulatory power to control its own emissions.

However, reducing emissions from residents will come through education about actions some are already taking, such as insulating attics, purchasing low-consumption Energy Star appliances, reducing the number of miles driven per day and taking part in the city's recycling and composting programs, said Maria Sanders, an environmental analyst with the city.

"Most of the strategies are what people are doing for other reasons, such as taking public transportation to work," Sanders said. "People will be replacing old furnaces that are at the end of their useful life."

Since El Cerrito is primarily residential rather than industrial, the private-citizen component will be key, especially in reaching the more-ambitious 2035 targets, according to the report.

"Instead of focusing efforts on a few large sources, El Cerrito's success will come from the many small, aggregated actions taken by its 24,000 residents and 5,700 people who work in El Cerrito," the report said.

The city projects that the 147,094 metric tons of carbon dioxide released in 2005 would fall to 102,965 metric tons by 2035 if the city is successful in meeting the targets set forth in the plan.

Emissions would rise by about 10,000 metric tons by 2035 by following state regulations alone.

Minus any government intervention, emissions will increase by about 30 percent over the next 22 years, despite the limited potential for new development within the city limits, according to the report.

The report identifies motor vehicles as the single largest greenhouse gas emissions source at 51 percent. Residential and commercial energy use is the second at 44 percent, with residential energy use double that of commercial.

Emissions from waste dumped in landfills account for 5 percent.

Some significant reductions could come from encouraging so-called green business practices within the city and promoting more water and energy conservation.

The city and region could also benefit from new state rules requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for cars and use of more renewable energy sources, according to the report.

The plan "will require sustained, strategic public investment by local, regional, state and federal agencies."

A couple of residents out of about 20 at a community meeting following the document's release Tuesday thought the city was not aiming high enough.

"We should look for outside funding to support a more ambitious plan," said John Berger. "The document doesn't make explicit that the global climate crisis is an emergency situation that requires emergency action."

Michael McCormick suggested that setting higher reduction targets would make it easier to meet or exceed the 15 percent and 30 percent goals.

The report is available on the city's website.

El Cerrito is holding a public comment period on the report that will end March 12, with possible revisions to the draft document to follow.

The city's Environmental Quality Committee will review a final document on April 9 to consider recommending it for City Council approval.

Comments on the draft report should be e-mailed to msanders@ci.el-cerrito.ca.us, faxed to 510-559-7682 or mailed to Climate Action Plan, City of El Cerrito, 10890 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, CA 94530.

The Environmental Quality Committee will hold a second public meeting on the draft climate action plan at the end of the public comment period.

The March 12 meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.

see the report
El Cerrito's draft Climate Action Plan can be downloaded at www.el-cerrito.org/climateactionplan. Hard copies for public review are available during normal business hours at City Hall, 10890 San Pablo Ave.; the Recycling and Environmental Resource Center, 7501 Schmidt Lane; and the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave.
Comments are due no later than 5 p.m. March 14.