When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there's no time to waste.
Everything I read about global warming is scary. The Earth's climate is changing for the worse considerably faster than scientists expected as little as a few years ago.
So everybody -- nations, states, cities, government, businesses, individuals -- we all have to do our part to keep our one and only planet habitable for humans and other life forms.
This month USA Today had a story, "Local climate plans a key to progress."
Download Local climate plans a key to progress - USA TODAY
Over the past three decades, more than 600 local governments across the United States adopted their own climate action plans setting greenhouse gas reduction targets. These pledges were in addition to America’s commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement, an international treaty signed by nearly 200 nations to limit the impact of climate change.
But experts now say many of those cities’ plans were aspirational at best. Now they must work harder if they’re going to curb the warming trend.
...A small window of opportunity remains for local governments to get serious about curbing climate change, according to the IPCC report. But, to achieve any kind of major corrective action, emissions must be slashed by the end of the decade.
The pressure is on to limit emissions faster at every level, said Mark Muro, a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.
Cities can play a key role in the nation’s ability to cut greenhouse gas, but more need to adopt action plans, Muro said, and those that have “need to deliver on their promises and tighten them.”
“Within this decade we have to make a sharp turn,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director and economist for the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Yet with disturbing regularity I hear people say, "What's the point in Salem having a Climate Action Plan, since we account for such a small percentage of global emissions?"
That's a ridiculous argument. If every nation, state, and city in the world followed that logic, nobody would do anything, since each entity generates a relatively small share of planetary greenhouse gases.
Here in Salem, we need to do our part.
Recognizing this, 350 Salem OR pushed the City Council to allocate funds for a Salem Climate Action Plan. As noted in my December 2020 post, Salem Climate Action Plan is going in wrong direction, the goals established by the City Council match what experts say is needed to fight global warming.
The City Council wants a Salem Climate Action Plan to specify how we're doing to do our part in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions that are literally cooking our planet. Recently these goals were approved by the council.
By 2035, Salem’s greenhouse gas emissions shall be reduced to 50% of the citywide greenhouse gas emissions for the baseline year of 2016, and by 2050, Salem should be carbon neutral.
OK. One would think that the Climate Action Plan process would be focused on how these goals are to be achieved.
That's the main problem evident in the Climate Action Plan nine months ago, and it still is the main problem today. The project team isn't serious enough about coming up with strategies to reduce Salem's greenhouse gas emissions, most of which come from transportation.
So if the plan doesn't mandate significant reductions in driving fossil-fuel-powered cars and trucks, there's no way Salem will be able to meet the goals set by the City Council.
Yet the title of an August 17 Salem Breakfast on Bikes post, Draft Strategies for Salem Climate Action Plan Still Evade the Heart of the Matter, says it all.
We still haven't seen even a basic swag at charting effectiveness and cost. Not to mention any modeling showing analytically that a 50% reduction by 2035 is plausible under this current proposal.
This list as we have it is mainly symbolic, not oriented to actual reductions.
So it is hard to look at the list and take a very positive first impression from it. It looks instead like it continues to evade the heart of things and is not positioning Salem for success on a 50% reduction by 2035.
Geez. It isn't as if we don't have plenty of evidence that global warming is a huge threat to Salem.
Last year gigantic wildfires turned our air so smoky the reddish sky was dark at noon. This year a heat wave smashed all-time temperature records, with Salem recording a sizzling 117 degrees, the same as the record high in Las Vegas.
Yesterday a Drought Status Update for the Pacific Northwest was issued. The tweet that brought the report to my attention had some disturbing facts.
We can't afford to screw around with bureaucratic half-steps and cosmetic gestures that won't markedly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.