Karen Bender and Patricia Larsen are Co-Chairs of the Climate Change Committee of the League of Women Voters of North Orange County
Some north Orange County cities have created plans to combat climate change on a local level in recent years. Not surprisingly, these plans vary immensely. Environmental justice groups find faults in their approach – or lack thereof –when it comes to including equity in their planning, like how to fund public transportation, or provide support to low-income communities faced with increasing energy costs.
The League of Women Voters (LWV) of North Orange County recently surveyed the eight cities in their area about their climate plans to see how they measured up against a national LWV study, identifying the best actions that cities can take to reduce their greenhouse gases (GHG). The national study suggested cities “move away from fossil fuels, electrify buildings and vehicles, and reduce vehicle use.” The study identified processes for achieving local GHG reduction planning: set goals, measure, hold accountable, clarify specific actions to be taken, assign authority and budget, integrate actions with public priorities, and finally, make the entire process transparent.
Fullerton has a lengthy climate action plan and in 2012 adopted the goal of being 15% below the 2009 emissions target by 2020, this to be monitored by the City’s Community Development Department. Fullerton also recently signed on with the Orange County Power Authority, a community choice energy program, focused on replacing fossil fuel energy sources of electricity with renewable energy sources of electricity. This plan does address one of the two highest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, energy production and transportation.
The cities of Cypress, La Palma, Placentia, and Yorba Linda say that they have not adopted a Climate Action plan. Buena Park has joined the Orange County Power Authority. Brea and La Habra do have climate action or sustainability plans. La Habra’s 2035 reduction target is a 30% decrease in GHG from the 2010 base year. Responsible parties for tracking and enforcement include the Public Works Department and Community Development Department.
Thus, while progress is being made, there is much more work to be done. None of the eight cities in our north Orange County region have a citizens’ climate action advisory group, though La Habra does have a General Plan Advisory Committee.
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