Menlo Park Climate Team encourages City Council to implement Climate Action Plan
More than three dozen Menlo Park residents have joined 350 Silicon Valley’s new Menlo Park Climate Team, with the goal of supporting implementation of the City Council’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). The bold goal of the CAP, written by Menlo Park’s Environmental Quality Commission and adopted by the council in 2020, is zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2030.
Frengiz Surty, Climate Team Lead, said: “Our residents are concerned about climate change and, as innovators and doers, they want our city to take action. Working on the Climate Team will give people a chance to spread the word that our City Council has an excellent Climate Action Plan. But it needs to be implemented in order to work for us.”
The Menlo Park Climate Team will work to help the community reach targets specified in the CAP:
• Convert 95% of existing buildings to all-electric energy sources (more than 40% of Menlo Park’s greenhouse gas emissions come from burning natural gas in residential and commercial buildings).
• Set city-wide goals for increased use of electric vehicles (EVs) and decreased gasoline sales.
• Expand EV-charging access to multifamily and commercial properties.
• Reduce vehicle miles traveled by 25% or an amount the Complete Streets Commission recommends.
• Eliminate use of fossil fuels in city operations.
• Develop a plan to protect our community from sea-level rise and flooding.
California Sen. Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) recently endorsed the new Climate Team. “I’m pushing legislation to remove barriers to electrification, and I’m excited that cities like Menlo Park are working at the local level on policy and awareness campaigns to get people to electrify their homes,” Becker said.
Mitch Slomiak, the founder of Menlo Park’s Green Ribbon Citizen’s Committee and a former member of the city’s Environmental Quality Commission, has worked for years to advance awareness of climate change in Menlo Park and applauds the team’s formation. Today, he calls the trajectory of climate change catastrophic. “Looking back at climate scientists’ predictions, we see that all of the worst-case scenarios are already playing out…ahead of schedule. We have time, but very little,” said Slomiak.
Diane Bailey, Executive Director of Menlo Spark (a nonprofit helping Menlo Park become climate neutral), interpreted the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. “ We’re already experiencing disastrous impacts of human-caused climate change and are locked into significant warming and direct impacts for decades, even if we drastically cut carbon emissions,” said Bailey.
“Among many impacts, Menlo Park can expect a 30% increase in the number of extreme heat days by 2030. And a more than 130% increase in the number of warm nights—from 12 to 28—by 2030, with increased mortality when there’s no nighttime cooling.
“It’s hard to imagine continuing to use fossil fuel equipment in our community, even small appliances like gas dryers, when we know that we must stop using fossil fuels ASAP to reduce carbon emissions to zero.”
The Climate Team has several initiatives in the works:
• Create broad awareness of the Climate Action Plan and the health and economic benefits it will produce for current and future residents.
• Build vocal, grassroots support for all decisions the City Council must make to implement the CAP.
• Encourage residential and commercial property owners to transition buildings to clean, all-electric energy, including publicizing financial incentives that can make the change affordable and equitable.
• Promote use of EVs, including incentives for purchasing new and used vehicles. (Residents are demonstrating growing interest. The California Energy Commission reported that 30% of vehicles purchased in Menlo Park in the first half of 2021 were Zero Emissions Vehicles.)
The Climate Team invites Menlo Park residents of all ages and backgrounds to join the team. No specific climate change or scientific knowledge is required to participate, and volunteers can contribute with whatever time they have available. To join, email MenloPark@350siliconvalley.org
James August 26, 2021 at 9:18 pm
This is a poorly thought out plan. Converting to electrical means relying on PG&E. PG&E had let the people of California down time after time. In fact the worst fires in the state, pumping thousands of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere have been caused by failed PG&E Equipment. Let’s be smart and get our electrical grid in better shape before forcing more stress on it.
Frengiz Surty August 27, 2021 at 11:13 pm
No one can doubt the need to invest in our electric grid, and climate action is a complex multi-pronged effort. Unfortunately this isn’t a linear process. We must take actions now on all fronts. The Climate Team and the CAP are tackling a variety of systems on a path to meeting our 2030 goals.
Nicole Kemeny August 27, 2021 at 4:10 pm
We must do both, concurrently. Hold PG&E to a high standard of accountability for the damage their equipment causes, while also transitioning as fast as possible away from fossil fuel. All the science tell us we must go electric rapidly to avoid worsening climate impacts from methane released by gas extraction and distribution, and CO2 released by burning fossil fuels.
Andrew August 27, 2021 at 10:26 pm
But meanwhile, concreting- and asphalting-over the environment they are trying to “save” continues at pace. Dumb.
TechnoJim August 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm
So converting gas consuming appliances and cars to electrical is nice, but you cannot count that as a zero carbon source. You have simply kicked the problem upstream to the power generating plant (many of which are gas fired), and the CO2 will be emitted there instead. Worse yet, long range transmission of electricity causes on average about 50% of the generated power at the plant to be lost along the way in step up and step down transformers, electromagnetic radiation, and transmission line resistance. I am always amazed that people do not take this into account. For every kilowatt hour that is delivered to your vehicle or home, two kilowatt hours had to be generated upstream. Eventually with an all renewable solar/wind etc infrastructure this would be OK, but right now it results in a large INCREASE in CO2 emissions overall, since so much of Californias grid is natural gas fired. Converting to electrical appliances too soon is a mistake. The grid has to be upgraded to non polluting sources, and this is projected to take a really long time. In the meantime gas fired appliances have their place in keeping carbon emissions low.
Scott August 28, 2021 at 9:15 pm
Leave the residential natural gas appliances alone.
1. PG&E will still need to maintain the gas infrastructure and that revenue will decrease, electric prices will increase to commentate.
2. If you want to reduce the emissions, start with reducing the electrical load, ban air conditioning, electric pool, and hot tub heaters.