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US city Berkeley prohibits gas infrastructure in new buildings: when there is a will, there is a way

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The United-States in the Trump era have considerably weakened their international commitments in regards to climate action but municipalities are increasingly taking over as the main environmental actors in the US.

In Berkeley, California, the Councilwoman Kate Harrison has introduced an ordinance that will require all new single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings to have electric infrastructure.

This new policy aims at drastically reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the city’s housing stock by prohibiting natural gas infrastructure in new buildings.

The city officials intend on taking further steps and to soon include commercial buildings and larger residential structures in similar regulations. It appears that although Berkeley was the first city to adopt such a regulation in the US, other cities should soon follow in their footsteps: according to California Energy Commission Chairman David Hochschild, 50 cities across the state, including San Francisco, are considering similar action.

Although Europe currently takes on a much more active role than the US on climate matters, EU policy is not that advanced in regards to energy requirements in buildings and the EPBD that was adopted in 2018 does not support electrification in buildings as much as it could and should. Berkeley’s situation is a proof that bold choices in favour of decarbonisation can be made when there is political will. Could this be a source of inspiration for European cities?

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