In 2018 the City Council passed the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Just recently they declared a Climate Emergency and elevated the goals of the CAAP to carbon neutrality by 2030. What strategies would you prioritize in order to achieve carbon neutrality and how will you reallocate budget resources or come up with new revenue streams to fund these changes?
Transportation is the largest local emitter of GHG and yet while the council was approving the CAAP, they were putting $400 million in road construction projects on the ballot. The transportation tax process was devoid of meaningful input from either the sustainability or housing departments. First, I would ensure that all transportation projects were planned in accordance with our CAAP goals. Next, I would ensure that all municipal construction projects met these goals and retrofitted energy efficient projects were undertaken for existing city buildings. Let’s create an economic development opportunity through production of building materials and renewable energy.
I would prioritize coordinating with other municipalities in Arizona to lobby and press the Arizona Corporation Commission, the government agency that regulates Arizona’s energy sector, to take more stringent measures around alternative energies and reducing carbon emissions statewide. I support increasing infrastructure for electric vehicles in Flagstaff and promoting multi-modal transportation.
The idea of offsetting carbon emissions is an opportunity where we can balance one negative carbon influence against its positive counterpart, so that there is no great difference as a result. Encouraging the sustainability departments to bring the drumbeat as the baseline throughout all other city departments will help us, as a city, march into 2030 more environmentally adept. Enforcing environmental impact fees can be a way to not only mitigate energy exploitation by industrial/corporate use, but also can help to fund the future of our sustainability program. Environmental, ecological and climate impact studies can also garner department funding.
The city has shown climate action leadership; we also need federal action. To address the 2030 goal, we will need to gradually transition to electric vehicles, get our power from renewable sources like solar and wind, improve building efficiencies, and more. We should consider either in-city or off-site carbon sequestration. The drivers for CO2 emissions are our life style and our population growth. In my lifetime, the world population has tripled; that is not sustainable. Regarding funding, we should consider fees associated with energy consumption, and reallocation of existing funds. Setting priorities should involve significant community outreach.
The restructuring of the Environmental Management Fee was a good place to create an equitable approach to paying the true cost of sustainability towards climate action. The tax revenue generated from this new setup should help us with future climate action programming. I would also like to see Sustainability included in a bond proposal to go before voters in 2022 to create a more significant investment in what is needed for carbon neutrality. Carbon offset programs, carbon impact fees, and neighborhood sustainability grants are approaches I see as being viable tools toward fixing the problem of carbon emissions.
I voted for the Climate Emergency Declaration Resolution that did elevate for our community to be carbon neutral by 2030. It’s ambitious and I believed it needs to be ambitious for us to get moving quickly to be carbon neutral. I believe it takes political will to achieve greatness for community needs. We can do that through efficient waste management, sustainable housing, efficient drinking water resources, a true multimodal transportation network.