Assembly COW reviews draft Climate Action Plan

By August 2, 2011Local Government

Energy consumption was down 13 percent in Juneau between 2007 and 2010, leading to a 10 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But the city’s Commission on Sustainability has a more ambitious goal – to reduce the 2007 emissions level 25 percent in the next 20 years.

To get there the commission working on a Climate Action Plan that it hopes will be adopted by the CBJ Assembly later this year. Zoe Morrison is with Sheinberg Associates, one of two consulting firms helping the Sustainability Commission write the plan. She says the 25 percent goal is in line with other communities, as well as state and federal targets and international agreements aimed at reducing emissions.

“And it’s also a level of reduction that we think is achievable for Juneau,” said Morrison. “So, it’s something that makes sense and that over the next 20 years we can get to.”

The plan outlines more than a hundred actions the city, its residents, and businesses can take to reduce energy consumption. It also sets emissions reduction targets for things like vehicles and buildings. Morrison says the plan uses software developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency for calculating emissions with adjustments made for Juneau.

“So for transportation there’s a series of goals and for each goal we’ve done an estimate of what the reduction potential is for each goal,” Morrison said.

Morrison and Amy Skilbred from Skilbred Consulting presented the draft plan to the CBJ Assembly Committee of the Whole last night. Deputy Mayor Merrill Sanford said he’d like to more detail on how much some of the actions would cost in the final version.

“Some of these things are going to be very costly to either an individual or to business or to us as government,” Sanford said. “So somehow I would like to see some of those costs.”

But Karen Crane – the assembly’s liaison to the Sustainability Commission – said it’s important for the report to list as many action items as possible and let future assemblies decide which ones to pursue.

“Some of the recommendations may be some things in here that individual members want to do and others don’t. But to get to that 25 percent it’s really going to be a decision by decision basis, you know, as we go forward, is this economical? Does it make sense for the community?” said Crane.

The Sustainability Commission plans to hold a public meeting on the Climate Action Plan this fall. The goal is to bring it back to the assembly in December for adoption.

In 2007, the assembly passed a resolution joining the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, or ICLEI. Adopting a Climate Action Plan is part of becoming an ICLEI member. The greenhouse gas emissions inventories conducted in 2007 and 2010 were also part of that effort.

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