What should the city council prioritize? Climate action!

The Takoma Park City Council’s February 3, 2021 meeting includes a final worksession discussion of 2021-2022 term council priorities. What should they prioritize? To me, one answer is clear: Climate action.

The council already has a climate-action agenda. They mapped it out themselves, last year, when they adopted the 2020 Climate Emergency Response Framework Resolution. I’ll admit my disappointment that the council has done very little in the last year to advance that agenda. That’s the backdrop for the message I sent the council:

Mayor, Councilmembers,

As you conclude discussion of FY22 priorities, please consider including implementation of the actions that listed in last March’s 2020 Climate Emergency Response Framework Resolution, as one of your highest priorities.

The 2020 framework resolution captured the research, analysis, and advice of the city’s consultant, Cadmus. It was guided and transformed into practical form by Takoma Park Environmental Sustainability Manager Gina Matthias, with the participation of the Takoma Park Committee on the Environment, in a public process that featured extensive public outreach and comment. All ingredients are in place for the council and staff to advance the framework’s actions. Fortunately, there is a huge amount of expertise in the community that the city could call on to develop and implement the required ordinances, resolutions, regulations, and public education and outreach efforts. I would gladly commit my own time. You don’t have to rely exclusively or even primarily on city staff and city attorney time to make this happen.

Most framework actions will involve lead-time and phase-in. The longer the city delays, the closer we get to our 2028 target of an 80% city reduction in greenhouse gases (GHG) without having acted, the harder it will be to live up to our Climate Emergency commitment.

There is every reason to act now, to make enactment of the framework actions one of the highest city priorities (preferably immediately and not waiting for the start of FY22). Since the public impact isn’t immediate given phase-in and education periods, covid-19 and fiscal constraints aren’t reasons to delay council action.

Please make implementation of 2020 Climate Emergency Response Framework Resolution actions one of the highest city priorities, for FY22 and the remainder of the current fiscal year.

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