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Santa Monica Councilman Challenges President on Environment

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 12, 2017 -- When President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, the decision received a mixed reaction nationwide and a mostly negative reception in left-leaning Santa Monica.

City Councilmember Kevin McKeown, long known as a champion for various “green” measures, was one of those who opposed Trump’s decision.

The day after the president's announcement, McKeown submitted an item for the City Council agenda that the municipal governing body “reaffirm our commitment to the Paris goals.”

McKeown wrote in an email to The Lookout that he made the quick move for a reason.

“I wanted to make sure the import of his ignorance wasn’t buried by recurring news cycles of even greater outrages (and Lordy, I was right!),” he wrote.

A pact between some 200 nations, the Paris Climate Agreement asks members to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight climate change. Under the pact, the U.S., which is second to China as the world’s largest emitter of carbon, would be required to reduce fossil fuel emissions nearly 30 percent by 2025.

Trump -- who vowed to “cancel” the climate deal during his campaign -- has called its rules “draconian" and unfair to the U.S.

McKeown conducted a presentation as a representative of the City of Santa Monica two years ago at the conference in Paris when the climate accord was negotiated.

He told The Lookout he met Pacific islanders at the conference who he said would see their homelands submerged by the middle of the century.

“America may have abandoned leadership, but California and Santa Monica will not forget those islanders nor all of us other global citizens whose future Trump made bleaker,” McKeown wrote.

The council will vote on McKeown’s measure on Tuesday. The proposal states:

“In response to the Trump withdrawal from the Paris climate accords, abandoning international agreement to take necessary actions to save our planet, [the] Council [will] reaffirm our commitment to the Paris goals, intensify our sustainability efforts in defiance of the Trump decision and work with California leadership to continue creating the 21st Century clean energy economy.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has made a similar announcement. He said California would remain committed to the accord and formed an “alliance” with the states of New York and Washington.

Santa Monica has long been known for its various green measures and has an active Office of Sustainability and the Environment.

The City adopted one of the nation’s first sustainable city plans in 1994. It has a goal on record of being “carbon neutral” by 2050.

Just last year, the council approved an ordinance requiring all single-family homes constructed in Santa Monica to achieve “zero net energy” (“Council Adopts 'Zero Net Energy' Requirement for New Santa Monica Homes,” October 31, 2016).

ZNE is an industry term for a structure that generates enough of its own energy from renewable sources to equal the amount of energy the building uses.


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