The City Council on Tuesday took a procedural step toward enacting a plan to drastically reduce local greenhouse gas emissions in the hopes of mitigating the worst effects of climate change, including extreme heat and sea level rise, that could have a dire impact on Long Beach.
City staff delivered a report Tuesday night about the plan, which has been in the works for years. Staffers said they’ve devised methods to help lessen the expected impacts of climate change, meet state-mandated greenhouse gas emissions standards by 2030 and put the city on a course for a more aspirational goal of carbon neutrality by 2045.
The presentation moves the Long Beach Climate Action and Adaptation Plan along to the next step, which is a formal environmental impact report mandated by the state. After that, the plan would have to come back to the City Council for a decision on whether to adopt it.
The 900+ page proposal lays out a pathway for the city to meet the state’s 2030 emissions benchmarks by reducing greenhouse gases by 192,659 metric tons. City staff expects a large chunk of that will be achieved through Southern California Edison’s switch to an electricity supply that is expected to be 80% carbon free by 2030.
Other sizable reductions are forecast through diverting commercial waste to recycling facilities (45,340 metric tons) as well as a green-waste program that could help divert nearly 40,000 metric tons of potential emissions from landfills. Another avenue is a reduction in local oil production, which could save the city about 41,740 metric tons of emissions.
“We depend a lot on oil,” said Mayor Robert Garcia, who pointed out that oil production has been historically beneficial for the city’s economy. “But it’s also damaging our community and damages the planet and damages our long-term ability to be sustainable.”
Part of the plan, however, will depend on Long Beach residents taking part in the effort. That could range from residents taking fewer trips in cars to them opting to purchase electric vehicles in the future.
Residents could also be nudged to participate in a 100% green rate program through Edison but City Manger Tom Modica said that would likely come after the city has transitioned its facilities to 100% renewable energy.
“That is what we’re trying to do in this plan is lead by example,” Modica said.
As the plan moves into the environmental impact report stage of approval, it’s not expected to return to the City Council for final adoption until the fall.
While many of the changes could take years to implement and could force the city to reallocate large sums of funding to stave off some of the worst projections of climate change, the status quo of greenhouse gas production could be disastrous for Long Beach.
Naples and the Peninsula, already threatened by tidal activity and storm flooding, could virtually disappear under the Pacific Ocean under some of the worst sea-level rise projections. Homes totaling about $1.3 billion along the city’s coastline could be at risk from rising seas.
Vital infrastructure like the port could be susceptible to flooding, which would have dire impacts on one of the world’s largest shipping complexes. Heat waves, water shortages and air quality issues, Things that Long Beach already struggles with, could all worsen without further action.
“You’re seeing hotter summers, you’re seeing wildfires. All of those things are causing intersectional problems with air quality and other things,” said Councilman Rex Richardson. “We have a moral responsibility to accelerate our Climate Action Adaptation Plan. It just makes sense.”