The California city that was home to 1960’s radicals and known for excessively liberal politics declared a “climate emergency” on Tuesday evening, backing policies to “humanely stabilize” the human population.
The Berkeley City Council unanimously voted to mobilize other California governments “to initiate a just local, state, national, and global climate emergency mobilization to restore a safe climate.”
The council’s resolution, introduced by Council Member Cheryl Davila, warned that man-made global warming was “driving a global freshwater scarcity crisis and the sixth mass extinction of species, which could devastate much of life on earth for the next 10 million years.” The resolution calls for a World War II-level mobilization effort to fight global warming.
Davila’s resolution claims, “The community of Berkeley and surrounding counties, despite well-meaning efforts, have disproportionately contributed to dangerous greenhouse gas emissions and thus must substantially curtail use of fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions on behalf of the larger planetary community to enable a rapid, just transition to a stable climate.”
“Reversing global warming and restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency mobilization to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors at wartime speed, to rapidly and safely drawdown or remove all the excess carbon from the atmosphere, and to implement safe measures to protect all people and species from the consequences of abrupt warming in the near-term,” the resolution claims.
To accomplish this, “requires an effort to preserve and restore half of Earth’s biodiversity in interconnected wildlife corridors and to humanely stabilize population,” the resolution claims.
Davila’s resolution also calls for “a shift toward a climate-resilient society and culture that prioritize conservation, community, and mutual aid over consumerism and narcissism.”
The resolution’s main goal is to become a “carbon sink” by 2030, meaning Berkeley would emit net negative greenhouse gas emissions by that time.
Environmental activists were thrilled with Berkeley’s decision to declare a “climate emergency.” Writer Eric Holthaus tweeted it “sets the new standard for what those of us with means should be striving for at this critical moment in Earth history.”
Berkeley is not the only city to have global warming targets. Many U.S. mayors signed onto a pledge spearheaded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to honor the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Bloomberg promised $200 million in 2017 to help cities tackle global warming. Indeed, Berkeley signed onto the “We Are Still In” pledge along with 264 other cities and counties across the country.
But is Berkeley’s pledge actually achievable? Evidence from other cities suggests ambitious climate plans often fail.
More than 1,000 U.S. mayors signed onto a pledge in 2007 to meet the emissions reductions cuts required by the Kyoto Protocol — the legally binding predecessor to the Paris accord the U.S. Senate never ratified.
Washington Policy Center director Todd Myers wrote that “virtually all these cities had failed to live up to the pledge their mayors had made, missing the Kyoto targets badly.”
“The results are instructive,” Myers wrote in National Review in June. Most interestingly, New York City only met Bloomberg’s Kyoto goal after being ravaged by the “great recession,” Myers noted.