Sunday, July 23, 2006

US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement

Last week City Council endorsed the US Mayor's Climate Protection Agreement that I somewhat precipitously signed this spring (I read about it, felt strongly that I should join well over 200 other Mayors in this, and went ahead and signed it, confident that Council would support me). In the meantime the Sierra Club and Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice gathered hundreds of names on petitions urging the City to sign up. It was appropriate we endorsed this the same week that An Inconvenient Truth opened at Vinegar Hill.

What does this mean? It means we pledge to reduce our emissions to follow the Kyoto Protocol - which the US never agreed to - by reducing our emissions 7% below 1990 levels, by 2012. Not only will this mean we are doing our part as a city and as citizens to address global warming, but by doing so we can save energy costs. We will inventory emissions and create a plan to reduce them, through land use and transportation policies, looking for alternative energy sources, increasing City and community conservation efforts, encouraging sustainable design, and promoting tree planting.

Councilor Dave Norris suggested a citizen advisory group to work with the City on this. The good news is that the City has been working on a number on initiatives in this area already - for example, replacing our vehicles with hybrids and dual fuel vehicles. For me, I want us to develop a plan to make sure we develop policies and programs to replace the trees we are losing to development, and make sure that energy saving approaches are implemented in our entire community, not just the affluent households. And I have already asked City staff to review our procurement policies, to make sure we use recycled products whenever possible.

And we need to get the bigger community - including Albemarle and the rest of our region - involved as well. Suggestions, anyone?


Blogger - PoliticalNoise said...

This probably isn't something a city can really do- at least not in Virginia anyway. But I'd suggest:

1- Homeowner tax credits to refit houses with energy sensitive appliances.

2- Building codes for new residential and commercial development that mandates the inclusion of energy saving devices and green design principles.

3- An energy "buyback program" in partnership with local utilities where residents could install those solar panel things and sell back surplus energy generated to the utility.

(Disclaimer: This isn't really a subject I'm familiar with so these are all ideas I've seen implemented sucessfully in other states.)

12:48 AM  
Blogger eirishis said...

Mayor, I worry about the externalities of this move. Will new restrictions be placed on businesses, both commercial (energy use/requirement of energy mix) and industrial (regulation of emission output)? If so, the effect on business, and ultimately on Charlottesville's consumers and employees, could be strong.

Depending on the size of the effect, here are some of the potential effects I see of the policy:

1) New industrial development may move from C'ville to other non-signatory communities where operating costs are lower.

2) Regionally determined electric rates could rise for both businesses and personal use, since costs of generation may increase.

3) The "trickle down" effect of increasing the price of traditional energy production may have a "push" effect on both commercial and residential immigration into the city, especially for those choosing between the city and the surrounding county.

Having not looked at the specific numbers for emission reduction for the City, and being unfamiliar with many other economic figures, I can't say with any certainty what outcomes can be expected. However, I know that people smarter than me have demanded answers to these concerns in other emission reduction movements.

Have you and the rest of the Council considered these economic effects?

Please do note, however, that ideologically, I agree with your decision to sign the agreement - I just worry about the lack of regional authority on the issue.

8:22 PM  

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