Delegations representing the Bay Area Quality Management District attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland stressed the need for countries around the world to work together to tackle climate change and for the Bay Area to take the lead.
Bay Area Air Quality Management District board members John Bauters and Davina Hurt represented the state’s public agency at the COP26 summit and spoke on Monday about their views on the conference and the climate issues related to emissions from shipping, aid to vulnerable communities and transit.
“For the people of the Bay Area, we are feeling the result of droughts and forest fires, all of which are linked to climate change. It will take more than California and the United States to really make a difference. What I hear here on the ground is that everyone wants to do what they can in their space and their region. There is optimism there, ”said Hurt, also a Belmont board member.
The COP26 summit brought together people and organizations from around the world to find ways to accelerate the achievement of the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. These include reducing emissions, protecting and restoring ecosystems, and mobilizing at least $ 100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020 from developed countries. Other global climate issues include ensuring the world reaches zero carbon emissions by mid-century and limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. The conference will take place from October 31 to November 12.
Hurt said California has remained a leader in the struggle, with inaction costing more than action. Hurt said investing in and re-examining finance markets in the fight against climate change is vital for the Bay Area and the economy’s transition.
“We’re going to have to change every area of California in different ways just to make ourselves more sustainable,” Hurt said.
Bauters, also a member of the Emeryville board, said tackling emissions from shipping will require repetitive and swift legislation to reduce marine emissions in the Bay Area. Possible improvements in the future include the electrification of ships, the switch to hydrogen-based fuels and infrastructure challenges.
Bauters and Hurt both said improving public transportation in the Bay Area, reducing dependence on cars and creating affordable housing were key to helping meet climate goals. Hurt noted that reducing the kilometers traveled by vehicles by individuals was essential for sustainability and setting new standards in the Bay Area. Instead of traveling by private car, people will have to increase the use of public transport. She highlighted Glasgow and Edinburgh as places with great ideas for transit systems that could be integrated into the Bay Area transit system.
“This is really going to be a cultural change that we all have to make together, and it will reduce the number of kilometers that vehicles travel,” Hurt said.
Bauters said many changes could come from adjusting land use in the Bay Area and moving away from dependence on automobiles. Encouraging fashion changes away from cars and towards cycling and walking will be essential. Transit mode changes would also require adjustments in where cities build and install things and how they invest in transit. He noted that lifestyle changes on public transportation are more prevalent among young people in the United States, giving him hope for the future.
“There is an intersectionality on land use, therefore building urban, dense and habitable environments for people, so that they do not travel to the Bay Area from Stockton, Manteca, Pittsburg and Modesto in these super journeys, which cover miles traveled and in fact not only harm the planet but bad for human health, bad for social well-being, bad for family connectivity, ”said Bauters.