CAAP festival (copy)

Residents who live near the Peninsula in Long Beach look at a map projecting flooding from sea level rise at a 2019 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan workshop and festival.

Long Beach is one step closer to implementing its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, a years-in-the-making document that will guide the city’s sustainability policies for years to come.

The City Council voted to confirm the proposed document at its Tuesday, Jan. 5, meeting. Next, city staff will prepare an environmental impact report for the plan before it comes back to the council for final approval in the fall.

The 420-page document includes plans to reduce Long Beach’s greenhouse gas emissions and prepare the city for the impacts of climate change — and to do so through an equity lens by ensuring economic opportunities created through the plan are made available to people in the communities that are hardest hit by climate change.

Among the plan’s chief goals is to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. To achieve that goal, the plan outlines strategies to reduce emissions through energy use, transportation and waste.

With energy use, for example, Southern California Edison will supply 80% carbon free electricity by 2030, and the city will decrease oil production by 20% below 2018 volumes, also by 2030. In that time frame, the Port of Long Beach’s Clean Trucks Program will also reduce diesel heavy-duty truck emissions by 10%, and 75% of paper, cardboard, food scraps and green waste served by private haulers will be diverted from landfills.

Those measures, along with several other strategies, would together reduce the city’s carbon emissions by nearly double the amount that would be necessary to meet the 2030 target.

That’s intentional, according to Development Services Deputy Director Christopher Koontz, because Long Beach likely won’t realistically be able to fulfill each and every one of the proposed strategies.

“While we will try to execute every recommendation in this plan and every implementation measure,” he said, “we won’t be successful on every single one, so there’s a little bit of wiggle room.”

But there are other policies in the works that are not incorporated into the document that also will likely help Long Beach meet its goal. The Port of Long Beach’s move to 100% emissions-free cargo handling equipment and the Long Beach Airport’s increased use of electric ground service equipment are two examples of that.

One big question that remains, though, is how much implementing the plan will cost the city. City Manager Tom Modica said Tuesday that his staff tried to separate out the “relatively inexpensive” projects and the financially “heavy duty” ones, but he did not yet have a robust financial analysis for it all.

Modica said he would come back to the City Council with estimates.

“We’re certainly going to need money, so this is going to be costly,” he said. But “we think it’s manageable.”

Mayor Robert Garcia, for his part, praised the work from city staff and City Council members that went into creating the plan before noting that a significant focus moving forward must be reducing Long Beach’s reliance on oil.

“We have to also put and dig in more on how we really reduce our fossil fuel consumption and how we really transition from an oil economy that has been, for many years, very beneficial from a revenue perspective to the city,” he said, “but it’s also damaging our community, and it damages the planet, and it damages our long-term ability to be sustainable.

“So much of our services are dependent, and have been for decades, on oil,” Garcia added. “That’s a conversation I look forward to having, and it’s one I think this council is ready to weigh in on.”

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