Local plan to combat climate change

Jeff vonKaenel

I am fond of my children and expect to be fond of my grandchildren. This makes me concerned about climate change. So I support Sacramento’s efforts to be part of the solution.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon’s Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change has come up with a plan to combat climate change.

It includes the following goals:

30% of all trips will be by public transit or shared mobility (carpools, bike shares) by 2030 and 50% by 2045;

30% of all trips will be by active transportation (walking, cycling) by 2030 and 40% by 2045;

80% of transportation will be by electric vehicles by 2030 and 100% by 2045.

These goals would be accomplished through better land-use planning, transit incentives, expansion of public transportation, car share, bike share, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and numerous other changes.

The proposed plan is both impressive and overwhelming. The 19-member commission includes a who’s who of local government officials and business leaders from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Regional Transit, Sacramento State University, SMUD, Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District and Raley’s.

At the fourth public meeting of the commission, held Aug. 1 in West Sacramento, panel members and the public discussed the plan. While supporting the ideas, some commissioners gingerly pointed out some of the daunting challenges of the plan. I left the meeting thinking this vision would never be a reality.

But then I talked to Mike McKeever, the nationally recognized former SACOG executive director, who invited me to lunch the next day. He believes strongly that the commission is on the right path. I asked him if I could quote him.

McKeever is an overachiever. He sent me a 700-word quote. Here are some of his thoughts:

“Small steps are just not enough. We have at most 11 years to make enough progress to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to walk civilization back from the precipice of massive disruption. While that seems daunting, it’s several years more than it took us to put a man on the moon and bring him back—once we made a firm commitment to do just that.

“Technically, it’s not difficult to make a list of many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough by 2030. With off-the-shelf technology, coupled with the right focus and determination from policymakers, residents and businesses, there is no question that this can be done.

“The Climate Commission is doing the right thing by first setting out big, audacious goals. The state of California, led by the California Air Resources Board, is a proven national and international leader in taking big, creative steps to solve this problem; in Christopher Cabaldon and Darrell Steinberg we have two incredibly effective leaders; and in SMUD, we have a proven national leader in moving to clean energy. This gives me hope we can do this.

“This climate agenda must be one and the same as the city’s commitment for a new economic prosperity based on a foundation of social equity. If we fail to solve this climate problem, all of the current inequities that are damaging the quality of life of the challenged sectors of our cities will get much, much worse. They are the most vulnerable if we fail.”

Convincing words.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.