CO2 levels in San Leandro have
dropped by 8.2 percent since 2009.

SAN LEANDRO | The city’s three-year-old climate action plan may not reach its goal of reducing emissions in San Leandro before its 2020 target date following years of tight budget cuts leaving the program underfunded.

The City of San Leandro’s climate action plan update this week detailed a less than optimistic reality for the city’s difficulties to lower pollution 25 percent below 2005 levels. Even though progress has been made there is still no fiscal capacity to reverse the quick suspension of the plan in 2010.

The city adopted a climate action plan in 2009 to help pay their part in tackling climate change and reduce health related issues resulting from heavy pollution.

According to Sally Barros, Senior Planner of the Community Development Department, overall cardon dioxide levels dropped by 8.2 percent. In 2005 municipal emissions were 5,235 metric tons and in 2010 they were reduced to 4,883 metric tons; community emissions were 727,986 tons in 2005 and reduced to 668,318 tons in 2010.

Although commercial and industrial emission rates were reduced from 24 percent to 15 percent, waste from 3 to 2 percent from 2005 to 2010, other categories of greenhouse gas inventory clocked in at higher rates. Residential increased from 12 percent to 16 percent and transportation from 60 to 66 percent.

PG&E emissions are down with the electrical grid producing 21 percent less carbon per kilowatt hours in 2010 than 2005. Also, fuel consumption has decreased by 20.6 percent for commercial/industrial and 1.2 percent for residential. But this reduction is likely due to the recession rather than federal, state or city policies. Total on-road emissions had a dismal 1.7 percent reduction due to heavy trucks and buses counter production of a 4 percent emission rate increase compared to the 5 percent reduction for passenger vehicles.

All federal funds to help accomplish the emission rate reduction thus far have been used up according to Barros. Barros says this is a good, citing the city’s adequate use of grants to tackle local climate issues. However, due to budgeting issues, staff reductions and the recession the city can not offer additional funds to help tackle climate issues in the city. In 2010 it the city had to suspend coordinated implementation of the plan and not much has changed since then to reverse this action.

There have been community workshops with San Leandro residents to help train them in ways to be more energy efficient. There is also a plan to build houses closer to the freeway and other transportation services to help reduce transportation via vehicle but Barros did say there is some difficulty in trying to encourage this with the limitation of funds and staff constraints. Also, converting elements of one’s household to conserve energy is incredibly expensive for the individual according to Barros.

Because of these restraints the city has been unable to designate a sustainability coordinator to devote entirely his or her time to the climate action plan even though Barros thinks they’ve been doing well without one. Councilmember Jim Prola called for the implementation of one though citing the savings through energy reductions costs that would occur through the climate action plan. “It would pretty much pay for itself,” said Prola, “Pollution costs us money too.”

No plan was set forth at this time to help deal with the fiscal inefficiencies of the climate action plan but Mayor Stephen Cassidy said they will have to look at what they can do for the climate plan when discussion of the new budget for the next two years comes before council later this spring. “We must look at what we have currently and what we can achieve. It is hard to create a new position considering our tight resources but if it is compelling enough we can direct staff,” said Cassidy, “It’s sad to see climate action adopted in 2009 and to see allocation of resources be suspended.”

Shane Bond is an East Bay Citizen contributor.