Around Town | October 19, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 19, 2012

Around Town

HOT TOPIC ... Global warming is a subject that rarely strays far from the minds of Palo Alto's elected leaders, who often tout the city's position as a green leader. This week, they will weigh whether the city should participate in one of the most ambitious efforts to date to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. The City Council is scheduled to consider joining the "Cool City Challenge," an effort spearheaded by the Empowerment Institute that relies on small groups of volunteers in each participating community to spread the gospel of emission reductions and, if all goes as planned, dramatically bring down the city's emissions. David Gershon, co-founder of the Empowerment Institute, introduced the idea to the council in July and characterized the effort as one that seeks to "reinvent the cities from the ground up." The program would engage residents and businesses throughout the city and set environmental goals that each will strive to meet. At the July meeting, the council tempered its enthusiasm for participating in the program with concerns about the cost and time commitments of pursuing the challenge. Councilman Larry Klein was among those who expressed great interest in having Palo Alto participate in the challenge. The effort, he said, is something that the city should "very seriously pursue." City staff now concurs with Klein. "The Cool Cities Challenge gives Palo Alto a chance to contribute to developing a potentially game-changing local solution to climate change," the report states. "Palo Alto is already a leader in climate protection in many ways, so this is an opportunity to achieve the next level and advance our climate action and energy efficiency goals." The effort would be funded largely by the Empowerment Institute, though it would also include heavy involvement by city staff. Officials don't expect the latter to be a problem. In a letter of intent that the council is scheduled to approve Monday, City Manager James Keene wrote that the city "has a track record as an early adopter city including a desire to take on big challenges, lead the way for other cities, civic pride in past accomplishments, high tolerance for experimentation, and a can-do community culture."

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