Unanimous council support for Paris Climate Agreement applauded

By BARBARA DIAMOND

It was a rare night for the Laguna Beach City Council. 

A harmonious and vocal audience applauded the council’s unanimous vote in favor of a resolution of support for the Paris Climate Agreement and the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda.

“I have never been in room before where I agreed with so many things being said,” commented Famin Pejan. 

Pejan was one of the 34 speakers who urged the council to support the agreement and sign on to the mayor’s agenda. 

“Tonight was exhilarating,” said Barbara MacGillivray. 

And that was before the council voted.

The council unanimously approved the resolution with four amendments proposed by Councilman Bob Whalen that he said would better reflect the values of the community.  

*Section 1: The city hereby supports the goals of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda including adopting and supporting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement;

*Section 2: The city commits to reduced Green House Gas emissions through the ongoing implementation of its Climate Protection Action Plan;

*Section 3: The city commits to periodic updates to its Climate Protection Action Plan to identify additional policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the city, residents and visitors, and to provide a sustainable local environment; and

*Section 4: The city clerk shall certify the adoption of this resolution. 

In a second action proposed by Whalen, staff was directed to explore available resources to assist the city in measuring its greenhouse gas emissions and to identify additional strategies to reduce emissions generated by the city’s residents and visitors.

Audience members, including environmental activist Chris Prelitz, who criticized the pre-amended resolution, mostly wanted the council to go further, specifically supporting a stronger commitment by the city and more compelling language in the document. 

There was also support for rewriting the city’s Climate Protection Action Plan, basing an update on more current data gathered since the plan was first approved.

Bluebelt Coalition spokeswoman Jinger Wallace said the city need look no further for an update than the proposed changes to the city’s Sustainability Element of the General Plan, pending review by the Planning Commission. 

Additionally, the city’s Environmental Sustainability Committee has developed a two-year work plan. 

“This will probably take them through the end of calendar year 2018, but if we want to begin to review the action plan – which will take public input – I could see them being the group to hold the meetings, but I think we are looking at 2018,” said Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede. 

City Manager John Pietig said it would be prudent to look back at previous experiences when two or three committees reviewed environmental proposals before which body – and how it would work with other bodies – is determined for an update on the action plan.

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