The League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville, or LWVBAE, discussed climate change actions in the upcoming election Monday.
Berkeley City Councilmember Kate Harrison gave a presentation at the meeting about the two utility users tax measures on the November ballot — Berkeley Measure HH and Albany Measure DD. Presentations were also held regarding the U.S. presidential candidates’ climate proposals and the Green New Deal.
“Climate change has impacted all of us, but it is compounded for workers who work outside,” Harrison said at the meeting.
If passed, Measure HH will increase electricity and gas taxes for Berkeley residents from 7.5% to 10%, with an exemption for low-income residents, and will authorize Berkeley City Council to increase the tax on gas by an additional 2.5%, according to the ballot measure.
Additionally, Measure HH will, if passed, create the Climate Equity Action Fund to address environmental justice, climate equity issues and climate change impacts on Berkeley’s low-income and most vulnerable populations, according to the ballot measure.
During the meeting, Harrison said Berkeley has tried informing people in the past about climate change and has passed financial incentives. She added that the city needs urgent funds to address pressing issues.
“This is a general fund tax, so we can address climate change and also help lower-income people,” Harrison said in the meeting. “There’s really no source of money to direct climate effects.”
Later in the meeting, Liz Finnegan, principal program manager of PG&E’s California Solar Initiative, gave a presentation about both U.S. presidential candidates’ climate change plans.
She said Democratic candidate Joe Biden has three major climate focuses: infrastructure investment, environmental justice and equitable transitions to a clean economy.
President Donald Trump, according to Finnegan, is proud of expanding American energy, especially for gas and oil, and hopes to reduce environmental regulations.
“We have to try and figure out a way to reduce climate disaster risk,” Finnegan said during the meeting. “We also have to make sure to address the risk properly that doesn’t leave out communities that cannot fend for themselves, like the elderly, low-income and communities of color.”
At the end of the meeting, LWVBAE showed an informative video titled “Grandmothers 4 a Green New Deal.” The goal of the Green New Deal, according to the video, is for the United States to have net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The Green New Deal also calls for cities to be resilient against climate change-induced extreme weather, ensuring workers have access to education as the economy transfers away from fossil fuel reliance, and for the United States to become a “worldwide leader” in the climate crisis.
“It made me feel proud to be a grandmother,” said attendee Jeanne Pimentel about the presentation during the meeting. “It made me feel like I could do something.”