Regional Climate Event explores local approaches to mitigation, adaptation

California has until 2050 to cut its GHG by 80 percent from 1990 levels, according to state law enacted in 2006, (AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act). With this goal in mind, some 150 public, private and non-profit leaders from throughout the Bay Area gathered on Tuesday, June 3 at MTC and ABAG’s Oakland offices.

The workshop included delegates from over 100 local projects representing best practices and promising initiatives for addressing climate change in each of the Bay Area’s nine counties. The three-hour program encouraged participants to consider new collaborations and partnerships that would expand on locally successful projects in each county in order to advance the shared objectives of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“The project is about giving people hope and a giving them a sense of some really terrific work going on in the region, and to help them see that there really are things we can do [about climate change],” explained Bruce Riordan of the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee, which sponsored the event. The State of California created the Joint Policy Committee to coordinate planning efforts by ABAG, BAAQMD, BCDC and MTC. 

Keynote speaker Linda Rudolph of the Climate and Health Alliance—a national nonprofit headquartered in Oakland—emphasized that sustainable transportation projects have natural allies in the public health sector. “If we could shift from an average of four to 22 minutes of active transportation a day, we’d not only reduce GHGs by 14 percent, we’d reduce heart disease by 14 percent,” Rudolph stated. She highlighted San Mateo County’s Health Department as an outstanding example because they actively promote complete streets and affordable housing as public health priorities. 
With respect to transit-oriented development, “the benefits are huge,” said fellow keynote speaker Sandi Galvez of the Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative. Galvez said she was pleased that MTC planners will be looking at public health modeling with transportation and land-use planning as part of the next update to Plan Bay Area.

Other plans and ideas were explored during tabling sessions and interactive exercises. International climate expert Bill Collins of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory discussed his Climate Readiness Institute, which unites top researchers and local practitioners to develop localized climate change models. ABAG and BCDC presented jointly on their Bay Area Housing and Community Multiple Hazards Risk Assessment, which helps jurisdictions manage housing growth in communities vulnerable to climate and seismic events. Marc Holmes of the San Francisco Bay Institute discussed research on the economic benefits of restoring the region’s tidal marshes, which prevent floods as effectively as levees and would cost half as much.

Summarizing recent progress in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation, Riordan said he felt “the kind of momentum that maybe we haven’t had since 2006,” when California passed its Global Warming Solutions Act. As a sign of this progress, “GHGs from transportation are going down despite the growth in population and in the economy,” he reported.