So far, the city of Salida has let others decide how to tackle climate change. No more. With the help of our sustainability committee, we are in the process of adopting a Climate Action Plan (CAP), designed to identify what we can do locally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ( GES) and help slow the rise in global temperatures.
As a community largely dependent on our natural environment for economic support, we are all aware that our winters are getting hotter and shorter, our summers are getting hotter and our mountain ecosystems are changing.
These changes affect the health and well-being of the community, recreation and the environment, as well as our local economy. Awareness of these changes has prompted city council to take action on climate change recently.
Our first step in this process was to commission a GHG inventory, which showed that in 2018, four zones are responsible for the majority of the city’s total GHG production. These four areas are transportation (32 percent), residential energy use (22 percent) commercial energy use (16 percent) and solid waste (11 percent).
Following this inventory, the city council formed a sustainability committee. For a year and a half, this committee, made up of two members of the municipal council (Harald Kaspar and me) and several members of the community, has been working on the drafting of a CAP, using a toolbox produced by the city of Aspen which has had a CAP since 2007.
A draft CAP for Salida was recently presented to the entire city council and contains five sectors to be addressed, as well as specific objectives and actions. These sectors are:
- Waste and landfill
- Vehicles and transport
- Energy supply
- Residential energy
- Commercial energy.
Once the city council approves the CAP, the next steps will be to set percentage reduction targets for GHG emissions and decide which CAP actions should be prioritized. In addition, the board will need to determine how to fund and staff our local sustainability efforts.
To coordinate this work with other like-minded Colorado municipalities, the city has become a member of the Colorado Communities for Climate Action. He works at the state level to effect changes in legislation and rule making for agencies.
Even without a CAP, the City has already taken a number of actions to make us more sustainable. Among them, the city’s participation in the solar garden at the intersection of County Road 140 and the American Highway. 285, which supplies all buildings in the city, and the installation of several charging stations for electric vehicles, including the ongoing construction of the Rivian site next to the Safeway store.
Many actions included in the CAP project will require the city’s cooperation with the county, state and / or federal government. Currently, a number of climate-related bills are pending approval by the state legislature, including bills dealing with affordable housing, single-use plastics, energy efficiency in buildings. , beneficial electrification and climate resilience. These bills will require strong leadership from the governor and the legislature to pass them, as well as adequate funding to implement them.
While individual actions are important, it’s clear that we all need to work together to make the kinds of changes on a scale large enough to impact global temperatures. People must be aware of their contributions to climate change, and governments at all levels must cooperate to encourage scientific and technological innovations and to implement these innovations. Because there is no planet B.
By Jane Templeton
Member of the municipal council of Salida, participating in the development of the draft city climate action plan