Climate & Environment
I recently read that if all U.S. municipalities did everything they could to reduce pollution that leads to climate change, these efforts would result in more than ⅓ of all the emissions reductions needed by 2025 to meet the U.S.’s commitment under the Paris Climate Accord (see footnotes for links) . Given that the President recently announced that the U.S. will no longer be a signatory to this Accord, cities, including Ann Arbor, must step up to address climate change via local actions. I introduced a resolution on June 19th, 2017 that affirms Ann Arbor's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement
Here in Ann Arbor, our commitment to climate action is real. We have adopted an ambitious Climate Action Plan that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025, and 90% by 2050, relative to year 2000 baseline emissions levels. We have made notable strides in solar energy, green infrastructure, and alternative transportation. Alas, we still have a long way to go: we have to double down our focus to develop programs that effectively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while also preparing for existing and avoidable future impacts.
Regarding solar and other renewable energy, we have made some progress in the last 18 months, adopting the Solar Ready Ann Arbor group buy program. I was proud to lead the effort to require all future city building projects to include solar or other renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. But we have work to do to eliminate the property tax increase on residents with solar panels and we have to continue working to create a solar group buy program that will allow residents who cannot install their own solar panels to buy into a renewable energy source. And we must work with DTE to achieve 100% renewable energy for the City. This last piece is a huge lift, one not likely to be finished while I am on City Council, but one we need to be aiming for if we’re going to meet our carbon reduction goals.
We can achieve the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases by making existing buildings more energy efficient (see link in footnote 3). Weatherization programs are tremendously effective and, as the Climate Action Partnership notes, “caulk is cheap.” We need to focus our efforts over the next year on finding recurring funding to support a program that provides incentives for both landlords and homeowners to weatherize their properties.
I introduced a resolution to create a green fleet of vehicles for the City and to expand our electric vehicle charging infrastructure. And in the next two years, I know we can make significant progress on reducing flooding in the 13 most troubled areas, in part through the Rain Ready Ann Arbor program.
Finally, one of our biggest challenges is to reduce the amount of solid waste going into landfills. Our recycling program, once the envy of the state, needs to be re-imagined and we need to develop a roadmap so that our program is environmentally and financially sustainable going forward. As we work to divert more waste from landfills, it’s essential to have an effective and expanded organics collection program (compost). I will continue to look for opportunities and funding to expand organics collection, reduce solid waste and balance the solid waste budget.
Lastly, attracting and keeping “green jobs” and entrepreneurs — those companies and individuals developing new technology, building and installing renewable energy products and inventing new ways to reduce our carbon emissions — is essential for our City’s long-term economic and environmental health. One of the major reasons I’m so excited to be running for another term is the chance I have to focus my efforts on making Ann Arbor a global leader in this field!