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Pasadena wants to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 83 percent, find out how





January 7, 2018 - Here's the scoop on Pasadena's Climate Action Plan, including some performance parameters and comments by Greg Gunther and Morey Wolfson.


Steve Scauzillo, San Gabriel Valley Tribune


Pasadena Star-News


The Glenarm Power Plant, seen on Jan. 3, 2018, has been retrofitted to lower the amount of emissions that can cause global climate change. Pasadena is studying how to further reduce the city’s carbon footprint. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

If there’s one thing environmentally minded Pasadenans say about the city’s new 2018 Climate Action Plan, it’s that it doesn’t mandate action for cutting greenhouse gases.

In other words, the 101-page action plan released on Dec. 28 is more of a loosely written set of goals containing 27 broad measures. Take this one, for example, known as measure No. T-2.1: “Enhance safe, reliable, and seamless transit services.”

“You won’t find dates and commitments, you know, where the rubber meets the road,” said Morey Wolfson, a member of the city’s Environmental Advisory Commission, which will discuss the plan at its Jan. 18 meting. Wolfson was energy policy adviser to Colorado governors Bill Ritter and John Hickenlooper.

The $100,000 plan – required and paid for by the state – does contain specific targets for reducing both city-generated and community-wide greenhouse gases, building on a successful history of greenhouse gas reduction.

Pasadena 2018 Climate Action Plan
Here are several steps residents can take to help reduce greenhouse gases.

PAS-L-CLIMATE_Web-01061. Drive less, bike more
Help reduce fossil fuel related emissions and explore the city with Metro’s Bikeshare.

2. Plant shade trees
Trees help save energy, clean the air, and help to sequester GHG emissions. Qualify to receive up to a rebate per tree with PWP’s Shade Trees Rebate program.

3. Go electric
Purchase an electric vehicle (EV) to help reduce fossil-fuel related emissions. Ask about PWP’s incentive and rebate opportunities when you purchase an EV.

4. Switch to efficient home appliances
Efficient home appliances can use up to 45 percent less water and up to 25 percent less energy. Replace your home appliances and take advantage of PWP’s rebate programs for dishwashers, washers, toilets, and refrigerators.

5. Lighten your load
Switch out your old incandescent light bulbs with LEDs and cut your energy use for lighting by up to 75 percent.

6. Home upgrades
PWP offers a variety of programs and rebates available for income-qualified customers to help lower bill payments and provide free or low-cost upgrades for water and energy home appliances.

7. Track energy and water usage
Compare your energy and water use with similarly sized homes to see how you can make your home more efficient.

8. Recycle your refrigerator
Recycle your old, energy wasting refrigerator with a new, high efficiency one and take advantage of PWP’s rebate program.

9. Turf removal
Replace your water-thirsty turf with native landscaping. PWP customers can qualify to receive a rebate per square-foot of native landscaping installed.

10. Laundry to landscape (L2L)
Increase water efficiency by reusing the water from your washing machine to water your plants. PWP’s L2L Program offers rebates and installation workshops to help you get started.

Note: PWP rebate programs are subject to funding and can change over time.
Source: City of Pasadena/Draft Pasadena Climate Action Plan

How the city has fared
From 2009 to 2013, communitywide greenhouse gases were reduced by 9 percent, almost entirely from transportation and energy sectors, according to the plan. The city went from 2.05 million metric tons of CO2 to 1.9 million. Most of that reduction comes from a decrease in gasoline consumption and use of more efficient electric appliances.

The energy sector dropped by 16 percent, transportation by 8 percent. (A metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent is the standard unit used in reporting greenhouse gases. There are about 2,204 pounds of CO2 in one metric ton).

However, greenhouse gas emissions rose by 64 percent due to an increase in waste sent into landfills from Pasadena, the report said. Emissions from water rose by 194 percent, mostly as a result of an increase in electricity used to pump, move and treat water, even though water consumption in the city dropped during that time.

Most of the increased pumping cost is shared throughout Southern California, which had to pump more water from Northern California and the Colorado River during the recent five-year drought.

Expectations for the future
For 2020, the city hopes to cut emissions by 27 percent compared to 2009’s numbers, slightly better than the target the Legislature set for the state. It then will set its goals to cut emissions by

49 percent by 2030
59 percent by 2035
83 percent by 2050
California law requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced statewide to 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The reductions are intended to slow the buildup of CO2 and methane in the atmosphere that trap heat and cause rising temperatures.

An overwhelming majority of scientists say there’s ample evidence that a greenhouse effect is altering the global climate by making droughts and Santa Ana winds last longer and storms, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, more powerful. Models predict rapidly melting ice caps that are raising sea levels will eventually swamp waterfront homes in Miami and other cities.

Wolfson, who spoke on the topic at a Sierra Club-Pasadena Group forum on Wednesday, called the city’s Climate Action Plan “aspirational” but a cohesive document that could become a framework for tackling environmental issues both locally and globally.

“The plan is tasking departments of the city to be more aggressive on certain things, such as traffic reduction, bicycle infrastructure, tree planting, park acquisition and renewable energy. It remains to be seen what these departments actually end up doing because there will not be a mandate,” Wolfson said during an interview.

Going renewable
State law also requires all utilities to increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of the total by 2020 and 50 percent by 2030. The Pasadena Water and Power, the city’s utility, hopes to reach 40 percent renewable energy by 2020. It is already at 32 percent, Wolfson said.

Holding it back is a contract to buy electrical energy from the coal-fired Intermountain plant in Utah for another nine years. The contract doesn’t expire until 2027, at which time the city may be able to use more renewable sources and achieve a 60 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from power, the report said.

However, energy use is second in greenhouse gas emissions to transportation. According to the city’s 2009 baseline, transportation emissions from cars, trucks and off-road vehicles make up 52 percent of the communitywide total, followed by energy from business and municipal operations at 31 percent. Residents account for 16 percent.

Meanwhile, emissions from decomposition of waste in landfills and from electricity used in water service are both less than 1 percent of the total.

Transportation’s share
“Transportation clearly has the most significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. It is something the commission is aware of and takes very seriously,” said Greg Gunther, chair of the city’s Transportation Advisory Commission.

Gunther said bike and pedestrian projects don’t get approved, even though they are in city planning documents. He’s advocating for adding much-needed east-west bike lanes to Orange Grove Boulevard simultaneously with an upcoming re-striping project funded by the recent gasoline tax.

“Here is a great opportunity, yet the political will is not fully in place to implement that across the board,” Gunther said. “There are pockets of resistance,” he said, referencing some business owners who’ve opposed a similar proposal for Union Street.

He urged residents to speak up at City Council meetings for alternative transportation projects that reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. “What people need to do is step up and make their feelings known,” he said.




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