I admire how the Salem Breakfast on Bikes blogger told it like it is in a recent post about the Salem Climate Action Plan that's up for discussion by the City Council on Monday.
This is a devastating criticism from someone who knows what he's talking about. The Breakfast on Bikes blogger has followed progress on the Climate Action Plan much more closely than I have, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions has been a longtime crusade for him.
So when he says it's a dud, the City Council needs to wake up and pay attention. There's still time to alter the plan to be a non-dud. But only if the blogger's critique is taken seriously. I urge you to read the entire blog post. Here's some excerpts.
If the plan is going to be at all serious, more than a Potemkin plan for show, it's clear that Council needs to stage an intervention and redirect the planning process to ensure the plan is reasonably likely to meet the goals.
Principals and an Enthusiasm Gap?
One of the biggest problems with the Climate Action Plan process has been demonstrated recently. The principal City planners don't appear to believe in it. When Staff have been given the opportunity to lean into the plan, they leaned away. They may say "climate matters," but their actions show they may not actually believe this.
In one case, when City Staff had a direct opportunity to coordinate and integrate climate planning with other formal planning activities, they not only passed on that, they acted as if climate didn't matter and even hindered other, more important activities.
...Separately, in a Salem Reporter article on climate, the other principal City planner had every opportunity to say, "here are the most important things we can do to reduce emissions," and instead they said we "need to build more resiliency." We need to endure and adapt to the climate emergency, not prevent its worst excesses, they appear to think.
...Nowhere Near a Plan for 50% Reduction by 2035
So as we near the end of this process for a Climate Action Plan, it turns out we are far from a plan. We have wishes and hopes only.
...Council should step in and give stronger direction so that we have a plan with reasonable expectations for success.
On Monday City Councilors should grill staff and consultants about why the Climate Action Plan doesn't come close to meeting the greenhouse gas emission goals set by the council, and why there's an undue emphasis on resiliency as global warming ravages the planet, rather than on reducing Salem's contributions to global warming.
Here's how I put it in a December 2020 blog post, "Salem Climate Action Plan is going in wrong direction." Sadly, there hasn't been a change in direction.
Very disappointing. But not surprising.
City of Salem staff have a long history of ignoring what the City Council and citizens want, instead substituting their own bad ideas for good ones.
So here we go again...
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.
But whoever the proverbial "One" is, they will be shocked to find that so far, what's being talked about is how Salem should deal with the nasty effects of climate change, not how the city's carbon footprint can be reduced.
I don't know who is responsible for this fiasco, but the Climate Action Plan needs to get back on track as soon as possible. It's astounding that the current "envisioning" exercise is for people to say how Salem can be resilient by 2050, not how Salem can be carbon neutral by 2050.
This is a major test for the 6-3 progressive majority on the City Council.
It's one thing for them to let city staff have their way on less important issues. It's a whole other thing if the six progressives allow the Climate Action Plan to fail at achieving the greenhouse gas emission goals set by the Council.
Because, you know, it's just the fate of human civilization that's at stake here.
Otherwise, I guess, no big deal if city staff and the hired consultants want to foist a "business as usual" Climate Action Plan onto the citizenry, assuming an acquiescent City Council will go along with it. Hopefully this won't happen at Monday's work session.