HAYWARD, Calif. — Since pandemic-era restrictions began to loosen, Hayward has observed a concerning increase in greenhouse gas emissions, despite making progress toward its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.
According to the city’s 2021 greenhouse gas emissions inventory, there was a 7.5% increase in carbon dioxide emissions, rising from about 567,000 metric tons to about 610,000 metric tons from 2020 to 2021. Nicole Grucky, the city’s sustainability specialist, informed the Hayward City Council’s sustainability committee during a meeting on Monday, Sept. 11, that city staff anticipate this trend to continue.
Climate scientists agree that burning fossil fuels like coal and oil releases gases like carbon dioxide that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere and the intensify extreme weather events around the planet. To prevent the planet from warming to a dangerous level, scientists stress the importance of putting an end to fossil fuel consumption.
California has been working on reducing its greenhouse gas emissions since the enactment of the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which initially aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state to 1990 levels by 2020. Hayward has managed to surpass its state-mandated target of a 30% reduction by 2025 ahead of schedule; the city reduced its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 37.4% from 2005 to 2021
The majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the city stem from transportation (56%), with passenger vehicle travel being the primary contributor. While emissions from transportation dropped from about 421,000 metric tons in 2019 to 309,168 in 2020, they subsequently rose to 346,000 metric tons in 2021.
There has seen surge in electric vehicle adoption since 2005, with a 17,288% increase in electric vehicle miles traveled. Councilmember Julie Roche spoke to the importance of also implementing other transportation solutions, such as constructing protected bike lanes and partnering with AC Transit to improve access to public transit across the city.
Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.