During the Irvine City Council on Tuesday, August 10, Irvine leaders unanimously agreed to adopt the Irvine ACHIEVES (Address Climate Change in Irvine’s Environment, Values, and Energy Sources) resolution, an aggressive climate strategy with a core goal of converting Irvine to a carbon neutral economy by 2030.
During the July 10 meeting, Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan said the initiatives were aspirational and a “step in the right direction.”
“It’s great timing for Irvine to show support for climate action, and how that aligns with scientific assessments,” Khan said. “With the adoption of the climate resolution, we are the third city in California to set the 2030 climate target and work toward averting climate catastrophe.”
Irvine now joins Menlo Park and Petaluma as the only California cities with 2030 carbon neutral goals.
The ACHIEVES Resolution seemed to have overwhelming support from the council, with Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim emphasizing her enthusiasm to showcase innovation in climate action locally.
“It is what we need to move forward for a sustainable future,” Kim said. “We really are at a crisis point right now, I believe that Irvine can be the leader when it comes to our role in climate change.”
While leaders in Irvine continue to fuel aspirations of a carbon free future, a report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change casts a dire outlook for the future health of ecosystems around the planet — based on the impacts of man-made climate change.
Michael Prather, a professor of Earth Sciences at UC Irvine, contributed to the IPCC report, which was released on Monday, August 9. In an interview with KCRW’s Press Play Podcast, Prather explained that global temperatures have increased and will exceed the 1.5 degrees celsius threshold that the science community had been eyeing for decades.
The IPCC report confirms that there is no return from this point, and that the detrimental effects of climate change are now permanent.
Still, while Prather admits the circumstances are dire, he said there is a way to dial back the environmental alarms — but that we are entering “a new world.”
“If we get to 1.5 [degrees] which we will without a doubt – I think we’re going to see serious damage, there’s going to be stress at some levels, there’s probably going to be environmental issues of insecurity, and threats around the world, because a lot places will not be livable,” he said. “When you exceed 40 degrees C, people cannot work outdoors. And so we’re basically going into a new world – that’s pretty tough.”
Prior to the council’s vote, Sona Coffee, Environmental Programs Administrator for the City of Irvine, presented the ACHIEVES resolution to the council. Coffee explained that the ACHIEVES resolution was created by Irvine’s Green Ribbon Environmental Committee and is just one aspect of Irvine’s climate strategies on its journey to carbon neutrality.
With the decision, Irvine becomes the third city in California to adopt stricter neutral initiatives than the state of California, which has an overarching goal to convert into a carbon neutral economy by 2035. This goal was recently pushed up a decade at the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom.
With the ACHIEVES resolution, Coffee explained that on July 29, the city launched a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). Irvine’s CAAP will be guided by the Irvine ACHIEVES resolution, as the city transitions to carbon neutrality by 2030, according to Coffee, who added that “significant changes will be needed statewide” in California’s production of electricity, agriculture and transportation industries, in order to meeting carbon-emissions thresholds.
“In California, we’ve seen a lot of progress in this area – the state has exceeded its 2020 target, while the economy has continued to grow — showing us that climate action does not hamper economic developments,” Coffee said. “One important item to note is that by adopting a climate resolution with a zero carbon by 2030 goal, this is what allows us to apply for funding to help us implement the climate plan and put these practices in place.”
As Irvine looks to aggressive climate strategies, it will do so by participating in the Cool City Challenge program, which comes with a top prize of $25 million in funding for the city that demonstrates the most innovative “moonshot” strategies for carbon neutrality.
“The Cool City Challenge will award three cities with $1 million in funding this year — the idea is to really develop an innovative climate strategy,” Coffee said. “This is an opportunity for Irvine not just to take climate action, but to lead on climate action.”