Nicely done, Salem branch of the 350 climate action organization that advocates for reducing carbon pollution as much and as rapidly as possible.
Below are the top ten climate action strategies that 350 Salem OR submitted to the City Council as a public comment in advance of last Monday's work session on the Salem Climate Action Plan. This is how their web site introduced the strategies.
To meet the Salem City Council’s goal of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2035 it is critical that the City focus on the most effective reduction strategies immediately, particularly related to transportation emissions. The science has spoken—business as usual is not an option. This memo focuses on these strategies. Many of our priority strategies have long lead times and must be implemented immediately, while other reduction strategies can be adopted over time as funding becomes available.
I've highlighted in red the strategies that are the most bold, and hence likely the most controversial. You can read the rationale for each strategy on the 350 Salem OR web site.
(1) No more widening (or adding lanes to) existing roadways. No new freeways or parkways. Invest instead in pedestrian and biking network/safety to transit network, schools and major employers.
(2) Charge for city-controlled parking in and near downtown.
(3) Mandate that major employers implement sustainable transportation for employees.
(4) Lobby/support intercity transit and rail at the state level.
(5) Improve pedestrian safety at crossings.
(6) Require EV charging stations at new (and later at existing) multifamily residences.
(7) Send all of Salem’s mixed trash to the Coffin Butte landfill. Adopt a comprehensive municipal waste program to reduce methane emissions.
(8) Ban new fossil gas residential and commercial hookups.
(9) Exempt System Development Charges within ¼ mile of the core transit network.
(10) Hire a city staff person to implement CAP [Climate Action Plan].
All of the strategies make a lot of sense. I like how 350 Salem OR speaks of the "most effective" greenhouse gas reduction strategies rather than the "most cost-effective."
City staff and the consultants hired to prepare the Salem Climate Action Plan have chosen some piddling actions that they view as the most cost-effective. I haven't checked how cost-effective is defined, mostly because I don't believe the whole notion of cost-effectiveness has much of a place in discussions of how to reduce greenhouse gases.
How do you place a cost on saving our planet for human civilization as we know it? How would future generations look on our failure to deal with the damage global warming is causing because politicians felt effective climate action strategies cost too much, so we went with less costly ineffective strategies?
Plus, the direct cost of implementing the four bold strategies in red will be minimal.
Not widening streets or adding lanes while putting that money into non-vehicular improvements should either be a wash or a net saving, since road construction is much more expensive than building bike/walking paths. The cost of downtown parking meters would be much less than the revenue generated by them. My understanding is that sending Salem's trash to the garbage burner is more expensive than sending it to a landfill would be. Banning new natural gas/fossil gas hookups would cost nothing.
Naturally people would have to change some habits if these strategies are implemented, as they should be.
For example, it might take a bit longer to drive from here to there. No big deal. I'd happily leave home five or ten minutes earlier to get somewhere if it meant Salem was doing its part to combat global warming by putting a freeze on street widening/construction.
Again, given the existential threat to humanity posed by climate change, I don't see that the City Council should fail to make the most effective greenhouse gas reduction strategies a top priority just because those actions will irritate some people and lower the profits of companies like Northwest Natural.
(Which has taken "Gas" out of its name, probably to look more, well, natural. Note: coal and oil also are natural. And also dangerous for the environment.)
There's no time to waste when it comes to combatting global warming. The signs of impending doom are all around us -- which means "impending doom" should be changed to simply... doom.