In what environmentalists called a historic move Tuesday, Mountain View became one of the first cities in the country to approve goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Using 2005 levels as the yardstick, the city wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent by 2012, with gradual reductions until emissions are reduced by 80 percent by 2050.
Staffers said the city emitted 752,755 metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. (A metric ton of such gases could fill a cube 27 feet wide, or 19,683 cubic feet.)
The council voted 6-1 to approve the emission reduction goals, with member John Inks opposed. Inks said it was important to have some goals for emission reduction, but felt that the city should study what could be realistically expected from environmental measures first instead of copying the goals of other cities. He pointed out that the city's biggest polluters, gas and diesel-powered vehicles, were largely out of the city's control.
The approved goals follow recommendations set forth by the Environmental Sustainability Task Force last year and by state law under AB32.
Former task force member Jeff Segall supported the action, saying it was a "great and historic evening" for the council.
Council member Laura Macias said the city was probably one of the first 100 cities to set such goals, and a city staff report said that about 50 other cities in the state were doing the same.
Council member Tom Means said he would support the goals because they were "voluntary and unenforceable," though some council members said the state could impose penalties in the future.
"There is a cost" to not meeting the goals, pointed out council member Ronit Bryant. "There is an environmental cost, and we will pay it through a higher sea level and rising temperatures."
According a city staff report, 56 percent of the city's 2005 emissions came from gas and diesel emissions, 25 percent from electricity, 16 percent from natural gas and 3 percent from waste and landfill emissions. Another chart showed that 13 percent of emissions came from residences, 21 percent from commercial uses and 6 percent from industrial uses.