This week kicks off the highly anticipated 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as COP21 for the 21st Gathering of the Conference of Parties) in Paris. Though only national governments can be negotiation parties, cities and regions will play a crucial role in setting the tone for ambitious climate action, with Santa Monica being among them.
Amidst the high-level climate negotiations, a weeklong series of activities and learning is programmed for local government climate leaders. The Cities & Regions Pavilion will be the central point for cities and regions at COP21.
Hosted by the City of Paris and Bristol European Green Capital 2015 and facilitated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Pavilion will showcase the Transformative Actions Program (TAP), which calls on local governments to submit the most ambitious, cross-cutting and inclusive projects with the potential to transform the lives of their citizens within the next 10 years.
The City of Santa Monica submitted a project that would convert the Big Blue Bus (BBB) fleet to run fully on electricity, charged by a massive solar array with battery storage at the bus facility. The transition to an emission-free bus fleet would reduce the City’s emissions by 5,500 metric tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to taking 1,158 vehicles off the road. BBB is a national leader in sustainability practices. Named as one of the nation’s top 100 bus fleets by Metro Magazine, BBB became one of the country’s first municipal transit authorities to convert its fleet to renewable natural gas (RNG) from landfill-generated methane and seeks to advance the latest technology to provide emission-free transportation.
Transit Director Ed King adds, “Transit Maintenance Officer, Getty Modica, and the Maintenance Division team have been instrumental in their commitment to bluer skies by providing the most technologically advanced vehicles and vehicle propulsion systems, vehicle fueling opportunities like RNG, and for keeping BBB on the cutting edge of climate change solutions. Our entire team is committed toward environmental leadership and electric transit vehicles will drive us and our customers towards a cleaner and greener future.”
Mayor McKeown will present the conceptual project to an audience of international development agencies and public financial institutions at the Pavilion on December 4, at 11 a.m. local time. He will be presenting among six other North American cities.
Mayor McKeown noted, “Santa Monicans can be proud of our long-term leadership on sustainability. We are known internationally for our innovation, and for our commitment on climate change. Being invited to present at this global gathering is an honor Santa Monica has earned, because our residents, our businesses, and our City staff continue to support Santa Monica’s pioneering environmental efforts.”
Since 1990, Santa Monica has reduced its emissions 14% below 1990 levels and has committed to achieving an 80% reduction by 2050. The City will sunset its current 15×15 Climate Action Plan, which seeks to reach a stated reduction goal of 15% by 2015, and prepare a long-range plan to continue reducing emissions and adapting to climate change impacts.
Overall, the project submitted is one of over 120 projects from 88 cities and regions in 42 countries from around the world. It will be on display at the Cities & Regions Pavilion, and is currently featured on the TAP website at http://tap-potential.org/projects/big-blue-bus-electrification/.
Future mayor Tony Vasquez and former mayor Pam O’Connor will also be representing Santa Monica and the United States delegation, respectively. O’Connor also serves on the North American Regional Executive Committee of ICLEI– Local Governments for Sustainability.
The Office of Sustainability and the Environment developed a one page graphic to communicate the City’s climate action successes and commitments, which can be found at http://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/OSE/Climate/SM_Climate_Infographic.pdf.