Council Corner: Ashland’s climate action plan

For many in Ashland and further afield, this has been a frightening start to 2017, with the change in priorities of the current administration and the effect this change may have on the elimination of federal programs addressing the impact of global warming. This has created more commitment to what we can do at a local level along with cities and states around the country to address environmental issues that may receive less attention or be aborted at a federal level.

Countries around the world are implementing strategies developed at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gases emission mitigation, adaptation and financing . There are currently enough countries that have ratified this agreement that produce enough of the world's greenhouse gases for the agreement to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

Ashland is currently working on the goals developed at the Paris conference on climate change in a number of ways. In 2016 the Ashland City Council passed the 10 x 20 ordinance, requiring the city to produce 10 percent of the electricity used in the city from new, local and clean soruces by 2020. The council adopted the ordinance on first and second reading at its Sept. 6 meeting.

An implementation plan for this ordinance will be the topic of an upcoming council study session and certainly many to follow. I salute Louise Shawkat for her dedication to this ordinance and her work in coming to council meetings, sending articles of interest to the council and making the case for the importance of this effort.

An ad-hoc committee was established in August 2015 to develop a Climate and Energy Action Plan. Cascadia consulting group was hired to assist with the development of a comprehensive and science-based plan. The plan was developed with public input and wide-reaching collaboration. The CEAP includes specific, measurable actions that citizens and local institutions can take to address climate change. Ashland is looking for ways the city can address climate change risks by reducing Ashland’s emissions of climate pollution as well as preparing for climate change impacts.

This plan can be viewed online on the city website. The climate and action group has developed a draft implementation plan which includes recommendations of how to implement this plan . According to the city website, aspects covered in the Implementation plan include:

Year One Action Summary

Ongoing Implementation oversight

Accountability and Enforcement

City Staffing

Funding Options/Opportunities

Monitoring and Evaluation

Equity Considerations

Near Term Action Priority

Overall Implementation Schedule

These recommendations are scheduled to go before the City Council for possible adoption. Some of the recommendations include a citizen advisory committee to oversee implementation of the CEAP by monitoring and tracking progress towards meeting CEAP goals, and adding a climate and energy position to coordinate city efforts and look at funding and public education and engagement.

Another recommendation I agree with is to adopt this Climate and Energy Action Plan through a resolution or ordinance to strengthen the importance of the plan and ensure its implementation. I wish to thank all those who gave so much of their time to create this plan, including Chairman Rich Rosenthal and staff liaison Adam Hanks.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Ashland High School student Claire Pryor, a member of the ad hoc group. Her commitment and foresight on how global warming would effect her generation was inspiring. She underscored the vital importance of local action to her generation to providing hope for the future, undercutting the dread of what might be if we do not take action. I believe adoption of this plan will be an important step for Ashland to take for our future generations and an action we have the moral responsibility to take.

— Stef Seffinger is a member of the Ashland City Council.

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