On Tuesday, October 17, 2006, the Oakland City Council unanimously passed legislation, sponsored by Councilmember Nancy Nadel, making Oakland the first city in the U.S. to aim for oil independence by 2020.
Inspired by Sweden, which earlier this year released a landmark national action plan that articulates programs and policy measures that are expected to reduce oil consumption in Sweden by as much as 40-50% by 2020, the City of Oakland hopes to provide a similar model for cities in the U.S. – which is facing an absence of state and federal leadership on sustainable energy policy.
Reporting within six months of formation, an Oakland task force composed of local, regional, and national experts will develop a robust oil independence plan, consolidating measures from around the world that can be used locally to reduce oil consumption citywide. This action plan will recommend bold initiatives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, establish Oakland as a national leader in the green economy and green jobs creation, and seek to secure Oakland’s energy needs.
Councilmember Nadel notes, “Oakland can be at the cutting edge of sustainable thinking if we create a plan that not only improves the environment but also spurs new green jobs and business opportunities.”
Policy makers note that cities are not only becoming the dominant global institutions of our society but increasingly the models and laboratories for change in the US, driving policy in other municipalities as well as at the state level. Examples from the Bay Area include Oakland’s hydrogen fueling station, Berkeley’s innovative commercial and residential efficiency programs, construction and demolition ordinances, biodiesel initiatives and San Francisco’s tidal power project.
Increasingly cities are coming together to influence state and national policy as seen in the local-level initiatives that have been spearheaded through, for example, San Francisco’s Urban Environmental Accords that has 100 Mayors from around the world signed on, and the city of Seattle’s U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement. As of today, Mayors in 319 cities that represent 51.4 million people have signed the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement and committed their communities to meet the greenhouse gas reduction goals of the Kyoto Protocol (7% reduction from 1990 levels by 2012). Councilmember Nadel’s initiative is another important landmark that could become a local turning point in a global issue.
Sustainability organizations such as SustainLane.com have ranked Oakland in the top 6 most sustainable cities in the U.S.
Oakland Resolution text [PDF]