Speakers in clean transportation town hall talk climate change urgency, solution

Photo of Calpirg Town Hall speakers
UC Berkeley professor David Romps (left), and City Councilmembers Kate Harrison (right) and Terry Taplin (center) discussed the urgency of climate change at the clean transportation town hall hosted by the California Public Interest Research Group.

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On Thursday morning, the California Public Interest Research Group, or CALPIRG, hosted a clean transportation town hall to discuss the urgency of climate change, current actions and solutions.

With hopes to see the state of California continue to lead the way in its climate change commitment to 100% by 2030, CALPIRG invited individuals to hear from UC Berkeley professor David Romps, and City Councilmembers Kate Harrison and Terry Taplin. The speakers answered audience questions and provided their own perspectives about current solutions, misconceptions and problems caused by climate change.

When asked for their opinions on whether individual efforts for climate change can make a difference, Taplin said both individual and group efforts make a difference. However, Harrison noted that collective action, instead of actions led by individuals or politicians, is more effective.

Romps, on the other hand, said individual efforts in climate change should not be undervalued. He added that when making decisions, such as purchasing an electric car or implementing solar energy in homes, individuals would have to be willing to switch to electricity.

“Those early adopters are just critical in driving forward those kinds of advances. We need people to step in and say ‘I need to electrify my home’ and prices will come down as we go down the learning curve,” Romps said during the event.

In regards to engagement and legislative activities, Harrison noted the city of Berkeley’s natural gas ban, becoming the first city in the nation to ban the use of natural gas in newly constructed buildings. However, Harrison added that she is “haunted” by the sense of Berkeley not doing enough for climate change.

Additionally, Harrison said the notion of replacing all fossil fuel vehicles, homes and power plants with clean versions while maintaining economic trajectories is not possible.

“ ‘Green growth’ is a trap,” Harrison said during the event. “In other words, we need to rethink our approach to economic growth. This means that we live in our ecological limits and we invest our capital into truly productive enterprises that are beneficial for humans as opposed to just profits.”

While electric bikes and transportation are important, other factors contributing to climate change such as consumptions and economic recovery from COVID-19 must be sustainable, Harrison added.

After learning in sixth grade that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is heating the planet, Romps became concerned about global warming.

Based on physics calculations, according to Romps, people will eventually run out of fossil fuels and convert to solar power in the future.

“The vision is more about time scale and how quickly we transition to that inevitable future,” Romps said during the event. “If we transition quickly, then we can stop the bleeding and I’d like to think we transition quickly and I’m grateful for the effort that many of you have been putting that into reality.”

Jasmine Lee is a business and economy reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JasmineLee_02.