Climate Action Plan & Community Meetings
On December 15, 2021, the City Council adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) that focuses on the adoption of electric vehicles in the community and the process of decarbonizing our existing buildings by reducing the use of fossil fuels. The CAP goal is to transition 95 percent of existing buildings in Morgan Hill to all-electric by 2045, with incremental targets every five years. The CAP also proposes to prohibit any new gas stations.
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Decarbonization of Existing Buildings
While new buildings being constructed in Morgan Hill are required to be all-electric, unless there is not a feasible way for them to operate without natural gas, it is the existing buildings currently utilizing natural gas that will continue to cause climate change unless they are retrofit.
Accessibility of Electric Vehicles
Some of the issues that arise with making the shift to electric vehicles include expanding community charging stations and multiple home communities charging abilities, among others that will be addressed in the CAP.
What is Decarbonization?
Decarbonization is the reduction or elimination of carbon from energy sources. By decarbonizing buildings in our community, the energy that it takes for things like heating, cooling, cooking, or lighting would be powered by electricity from renewable sources instead of by fossil fuels.
Why Should We Decarbonize Buildings?
- Environmental Factors - Using natural gas for space heating, water heating, and cooking in buildings means that carbon dioxide will be released both directly at each appliance and throughout the supply and distribution system transporting the gas. When that carbon dioxide is released, it accumulates in our atmosphere. All that carbon dioxide becomes trapped and creates a greenhouse effect on our planet, warming up the overall climate. Switching all our commercial and residential buildings to fully function on electricity, rather than natural gas, will drastically reduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The California grid is increasingly powered by renewable energy every year and the State has a goal for the grid to be based on 100% renewables by 2045.
- Health Benefits – Natural gas and propane stoves can release carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and other harmful pollutants into the air that can be toxic to people and pets. In homes that use gas powered appliances, children are 42 percent more at risk for developing asthma compared to homes with electric stoves.
- Economic Value – Since energy efficiency efforts began 40 years ago, Californians have saved $74 billion (PDF) in reduced electricity costs. If every American home replaced one incandescent light bulb with a new ENERGY STAR energy-saving LED bulb, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that we could save enough energy to power three million homes for a year, save about $680 million in annual energy costs and eliminate nine billion pounds of emissions per year.
Why Should We Switch to Electric Vehicles?
Traditionally, vehicles have relied on gasoline that is extracted from the ground. When that gasoline is burned to operate the vehicle carbon dioxide is released, contributing to climate change. Electric powered vehicles are powered by electricity that can come from renewable sources. The battery inside of the electric vehicle is charged and does not require gas, there are hybrids out on the road that use both means of power, but a vehicle that runs solely off electricity is what will benefit the planet most.
What are the Challenges with Electric Vehicles?
The need and desire for eco-friendly modes of transportation have been increasing over the past decade and a variety of manufactures have changed with this trend. Almost every vehicle manufacture today is developing electric vehicles. As this diversity of manufactures increases, we are seeing a decrease in the price per vehicle. As the price steadily decreases, the potential for more people to switch out their gasoline-fueled car for an electric one increases. The main challenge that the City of Morgan Hill is focusing on is going to be the ability for the community to charge electric vehicles. If you need it to work, it must be charged. So, what do you do if you don’t have a personal garage? Or your complex does not have any charging ports or not enough for everyone in the development to use? What if you go to the store and you’re running low on power? These are all the major questions this CAP will work towards establishing solutions for.
Carbon Emissions in Morgan Hill