Saturday, August 8, 2020

CB council getting serious about climate change issues

Sees an emergency

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Town Council is ready to get serious about taking action to help mitigate climate change. Council members plan to adopt a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in December and have a resolution at the ready that declares the council endorses “the declaration of a climate emergency and reaffirming Crested Butte’s commitment to climate action.” The public is invited to see a draft of the proposed CAP at a work session this Monday, November 4 at 6 p.m.

Several Town Council members and staff returned from a climate change summit in Park City this fall (they drove there in a Tesla) and were alarmed and energized by the situation and the information they were given.

According to a memo from community development director Michael Yerman, the summit discussed several ways that mountain communities could take significant action to set the examples and send a strong message about acting on the global crisis. Many of the mountain communities at the summit have set a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

In 2018 the Crested Butte council set a five-year goal to reduce the town’s municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and the community’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2023.

The council decided at the last meeting to consider the resolution declaring a climate emergency in December to correspond with the official release of its Climate Action Plan.

Crested Butte planner Mel Yemma attended the summit and drafted the resolution for the council. “There is a sense of urgency about climate change from mountain towns and if we have the will we can be the example of how to address it,” she told the council at its October 21 meeting.

The proposed resolution calls for many actions, including striving to power the town with 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and achieving town-wide net zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible but no later than 2030. The town will initiate an effort to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere through land conservation and land use planning efforts supporting carbon sequestration. The Town Council will consider climate change impacts in its decision making. The town will ensure a just transition for residents and accelerate adaptation and resilience strategies for the community. And the town will continue to advocate at the state and federal levels for climate change legislation, among many other things.

“You hit it out of the park,” said councilman Will Dujardin, who has indicated he is ready to spend significant town funds to reach the stated goals. “The resolution sets a strong example and sends a strong message.”

In that vein, government leaders throughout the valley have formed a countywide Climate Action subcommittee as part of the One Valley initiative. That subcommittee hopes to organize a Gunnison Country Climate Conference to be held in mid-January. The multi-day event would include speakers and panels discussing the impacts of climate change in the valley and ways to mitigate those changes.

The town’s timeline for adopting the resolution and a solidified Climate Action Plan is to solicit community feedback between now and December. A public work session on the draft of the climate plan will be held on November 4, with a final draft expected to come to the council in early December. The goal is to adopt the resolution and the Climate Action Plan at the December 16 Town Council meeting.

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