Before unanimously voting on June 23 to approve the CO2 emission reduction goals, the council was told by the city’s Climate and Energy Assistant Nicholas Tagas that if nothing is done to stop global warming, Knightsen, Discovery Bay and eastern Oakley will be underwater by 2059. In addition, 60 to 80 percent of the Sierra snowpack will disappear, the Delta will increase in salinity and forest fires will increase in the state.
Tagas said that humans have contributed to an 80-percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution, which has caused a nearly two-degree rise in global temperature since 1860.
“I know that might not seem like a lot. (But) small temperature changes have a very large effect,” said Tagas, comparing the planet to a sick child who may feel unhappy with a 100-degree temperature, a little sick with a 102-degree temperature, needing to see a doctor with a 104-degree temperature and experiencing organ failure with a 106-degree temperature.
Concerned about a potential Earth “organ failure,” state legislators have passed two major bills, AB 32 and SB 375, that seek to reduce carbon emissions in California 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The specifics of how those ambitious goals will be achieved are still being worked out.
However, the mandates needed to achieve those goals will cost each California household nearly $4,000 per year, each small business nearly $50,000 and more than a million jobs will be lost, further exacerbating the government budget crisis, according to a study released Monday by California State University business professors Sanjay Varshney and Dennis H. Tootelian,
Former Antioch Councilman Arne Simonsen is concerned that the council has acted too quickly without considering the financial impacts on residents and city government, which is struggling to shore up a $6 million budget deficit.
“Clearly this is being rammed down our throats,” Simonsen said in a phone interview. “The council, like many of the legislators, voted on something they haven’t read. That’s going to have an impact on Antioch’s fleet of vehicles and trucks – we haven’t got the money to retrofit or replace equipment. Individual residents are going to be expected to upgrade to newer, cleaner-burning cars, and you’re going to have higher home prices. Eco-friendly clothes washers and driers are about four times as expensive as regular driers or washers. So the impact to families is going to be considerable.
“While it might be nice, it’s really the fuzzy science, the global warming BS, which is using very bad science. There’s quite a bit of debate about whether global warming is nothing more than a plan to be able to create a new commodities market trading carbon credits. One volcano helps create more damage to the Earth’s climate than anything man has done in the entire time he’s walked the Earth. This is really government creating a new industry by eliminating the old industry – it’s socialist economics.”
The potential economic downside of the AB 32 mandates was not mentioned by Tagas in his presentation to the council. The “Financial Impact” section of his staff report does state that by pledging to reduce greenhouse gases, the city could receive an $885,000 federal Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant. That money would be used to prepare a Community Climate Action Plan by the end of the year.
It will be followed by community outreach to gain ideas on reducing residents’ carbon footprints (city government accounts for only 3 percent of carbon emissions in Antioch). Those ideas might include increasing recycling, conservation and food composting while driving less and doing more walking, bicycling and riding the bus and BART, according to Environmental Resources Coordinator Julie Haas-Wajdowicz.
“We are going to be asking the community to pay in big-time with their behavior modification,” she said in a phone interview. “We are not going to be able to decrease greenhouse gas emissions if everybody continues to do business as usual in their personal lives.”
When asked about the potential detrimental economic impacts of reducing emissions, Haas-Wajdowicz said, “Folks that are very often worried about those arguments are really only worried about today. We are at the point where we need to worry about the sustainability of our activities as a whole. If you are not concerned about your overall activities on the planet, people and profits, then you’re in a short-sighted business model that is not sustainable. If you’re basically polluting, it might be a legal level of polluting, but you are soiling whatever you are polluting for future use.”
None of the council members raised concerns about the plan, and Councilman Reggie Moore praised it. “I want to thank you for the work you have done on this project,” he said to Tagas. “The time it took to inventory the city’s footprint and what we need to do is a Herculean task. We are on the right track to meeting the mandates of AB 32. I have the privilege of being a part of the move to approve that legislation. It’s been close to me for a very long time, and I’m pleased that we are where we are in this process.”
For more information, go online to www.ci.antioch.ca.us/environment/climate.