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Santa Monica Enters Pact to Promote Solar Energy

By Susan Reines
Staff Writer

November 29 -- The City Council last week adopted a declaration from the first International Solar Cities Congress committing Santa Monica to work with other cities on promoting the use of solar energy sources.

Santa Monica was one of two American cities represented at the renewable energy congress in South Korea earlier this month, where city officials from around the world met to make the ambitious declarations some federal governments have shied away from.

Council member Pam O'Connor and a representative from Minneapolis were the only two Americans at the congress, which was attended by officials from Sapporo, Japan; Cape Town, South Africa; Linz, Austria and other cities from across the globe.

Santa Monica is already a world leader in renewable energy usage, O'Connor said, adding that the city could benefit from joining with other cities to share information.

"What this adds is availability for more transfer of information," O'Connor told The Lookout in a phone interview from the congress. "Why reinvent the wheel? We learn from each other.

"Our national government in the U.S. is not setting any targets for renewable energy," she said, "but if a lot of local cities start doing it, maybe we can make progress."

Officials at the congress hammered out the Daegu Declaration, named for the conference's South Korean host city, under which cities would set targets for increasing use of renewable energy -- especially solar, but also wind and water power -- in order to decrease reliance on oil and coal.

Under the Daegu Declaration, each city would set its own renewable energy goals, allowing the wide variety of cities to set realistic goals based on their economies and environments.

"What's good about this is it's giving room for cities and recognizing that each city is going to have a different way of looking at it," O'Connor said. "So this is kind of the first step, a baby step. There's a common understanding that each city will set its own targets."

Science and technology organizations and business groups also attended the conference, O'Connor said. The science experts are assisting the non-scientists in understanding the mechanics of renewable energy sources.

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