Albany Climate Action: Getting to Net Zero

Albany logo sunsetThe City of Albany Climate Action Committee met on May 17, 2023, to discuss topics such as current and future policy and program options for the City of Albany. The next meeting will be held on June 21, 2023 at 7pm.

Albany’s Policy and Program Options
Elizabeth (Lizze) Carrade, Albany’s Sustainability Coordinator, gave a presentation on “Albany’s Consumption Based Emissions Inventory and Possible Policy and Program Options” at this meeting. Albany currently produces around 50,000 metric tons of CO2e (Carbon Dioxide Equivalent, calculated by converting the global warming power of various greenhouse gasses to the warming power of carbon dioxide.) annually in Albany. Albany’s goal is to have net zero emissions by 2040. However, on our current trajectory with no action taken, we will still end up with emissions of around 48,000 metric tons of CO2e annually, according to Carrade.

To facilitate meeting this goal, there was a new chapter of Albany’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP), to create a new carbon free economy. The chapter aims to “Incentivise individual actions to reduce waste and carbon in our purchases and daily life.” The long term goal is to reduce landfill waste by 95% by 2045.

In addition, Albany is participating in various programs that aim to cut waste, such as the Alameda countywide reusable bag ordinance, which applies to all restaurants and stores in Albany. This ordinance states that if a customer desires a plastic bag, the store must charge $0.10 per bag, and that the bag must be made out of post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. This is used to incentivise customers to bring their own bag.

Albany also has made progress on California’s Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Reduction Act (Senate Bill 1383) that aims to combat food waste. It requires all jurisdictions to conduct outreach to restaurants and grocery stores for edible food recovery compliance.

Potential Future Programs
Since foodware is one of the greatest sources of litter in the Bay Area, reusable foodware and sustainable takeout could have a huge impact on combating waste. In March of 2023, Stopwaste, a public agency governed by various stakeholders in Alameda County, released a model ordinance to shift from unsustainable utensils such as plastic, to more eco-friendly utensils made of metal or paper.

Another potential program is an expansion on plastic bags. The City of Albany adopted its own ban on plastic bags in 2022 that disallows all bags that are “not truly compostable or recyclable.” However, some additional considerations will need to be made, such as the cost. This ban for Berkeley is expected to total around $350,000/year. In addition, complaint-based enforcement is challenging for Albany to manage on its own, city representatives said.

–Rinta Taira


All League News