City environmental commission discusses decarbonizing, PG&E

Cheyenne Tex/Staff

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The city of Berkeley’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission, or CEAC, met Thursday to discuss various projects and subcommittee updates.

The commission discussed a resolution drafted by Toby Simmons, a commissioner of CEAC and a current campus junior, to “decarbonize” the city. The proposed resolution would prohibit vehicles that utilize carbon-based fuels, such as gasoline and diesel, from operating, parking or idling on city streets beginning in 2045. The resolution would also prohibit the resale of “combustion vehicles” in 2040 and the sale of carbon-based transportation fuels in 2045.

According to the drafted resolution, this “robust policy” is necessary in order to meet Berkeley’s goals of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 and an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The resolution is currently in the process of being edited and revised.

Among other discussions was a report from the plastics reduction research initiative.

“Our subcommittee met and we’re in the process of drafting a letter that will ask the city council to support an effort to ask the state to set up some kind of research fund for finding substitutes for plastics,” said Michael Goldhaber, a commissioner of CEAC.

Goldhaber added that the status of recycling is in “very bad shape” and that not many people know how to reuse plastics. At the height of national recycling, only a small margin of plastics was actually recycled nationwide, according to Goldhaber.

Ben Gould, a CEAC chairperson, introduced discussion regarding amending the commission’s name and mission statement in order to broaden the focus from its initial purpose of pollution reduction.

Part of the discussion will involve considering the commission’s balance between climate adaptation, climate mitigation, climate justice and general sustainability, according to Gould.

The meeting came to a close with a conversation about the then-continuing PG&E power shutdown. According to commissioner and campus senior Dante Gonzales, the company has several violations and has failed several audits.

“It’s clear that they care about stockholders rather than actual people,” Gonzales said.

In response, Gonzales and the Climate Justice Subcommittee will begin drafting an open letter to PG&E.

Contact Maya Akkaraju at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @maya_akkaraju.