CITY HALL — Officials from the Office of Sustainability and the Environment advanced an ambitious plan that would cut Santa Monica’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by 2015 and 30 percent by 2030, with even more drastic cuts planned for 2050.
As the city grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to meet existing climate goals, meaning the government must act to shave off thousands of metric tons of carbon dioxide gas by 2015, said Shannon Parry, the Sustainable Santa Monica coordinator at OSE.
Half of those savings can be achieved by diverting more waste from landfills, reducing daily vehicle trips by 13,000 and increasing the number of trips completed through biking and walking by 15 percent.
Most of those changes can even be done within the existing budget, she said, although the Pedestrian Action Plan, citywide solar installations nor solar thermal systems at the Santa Monica Swim Center and five fire stations do not have funding.
Santa Monica is on track to achieve the first 15 percent reduction, Parry said, and even the next 15 percent is “reasonably doable” by 2030. Looking beyond to the 2050 goal — an 80 percent reduction below 1990 emissions levels — is when things start to get difficult.
“When we start to get to reductions beyond that, there are some pretty aggressive infrastructure investments and potentially significant costs required,” she said.
There’s relatively little that the government can do on its own, however.
Only 7 percent of Santa Monica’s emissions comes from municipal operations, although that excludes the most-polluting aspects of the Santa Monica Airport — specifically jets and airplanes and the fuel they burn.
Still, those emissions have increased 60 percent since 1990, Parry said.
“We need to reduce by a total of 6,700 metric tons to achieve the municipal target of 30 percent below 1990 levels,” Parry said. The “15 x 15” plan outlined that evening would take care of 3,600 metric tons alone.
Modifications being considered from the governmental regulation level include requiring more people to carpool to work, and potentially requiring solar installations on some construction.
Truly reducing emissions is a team sport, said Councilmember Gleam Davis.
“This isn’t something that the city is doing as government agency,” she said. “I think it will be important to see benchmarks to see how we as a community are doing this, not just city government.”