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Citizen's View: Climate plan proposals put emphasis on action
Neither of us have air conditioning. There was a time when that was normal around here. But we are dealing with a new normal. The past several summers have been rough, and they are going to get rougher.
This is just one of many reasons we spent the past months collaborating on a set of recommendations for Lake Oswego to take action on climate change.
One year ago, our City Council adopted a goal to support the creation of a City-community Climate Action Plan — the emphasis being on action. Next week, we are excited to be sharing 10 recommendations and a set of specific actions under each.
The City is hosting an Open House at City Hall from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20, where individuals representing the City's Sustainability Advisory Board and Lake Oswego Sustainability Network will share these ideas for action.
These groups volunteered more than 1,000 hours over the past year to review climate actions in other similar-size cities. We consulted with more than 50 local experts on topics ranging from electric vehicles to high-performance buildings. We received valuable insights and guidance from City Councilors, City staff and citizen groups.
One of the most important things we did was translate a global challenge — climate change — into something we can address locally. Notably, cities account for 60-70 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change. There are thousands of cities working on how to deal with the current effects of climate change and how to reduce its impact in the future. We found opportunities for meaningful local action across four areas: Transportation and Connectivity; Buildings and Energy; Consumption (Food and Materials); and Natural Resources and Resilience.
Our criteria were simple. We wanted to highlight things Lake Oswego can do locally — through either public or private action. We asked: Will they make a difference, and will they improve the quality of life in our community? Here's a sample of the 10 recommendations and actions that rose to the top of the list:
Electrify our transportation options: Transportation accounts for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in Lake Oswego. Vehicle emissions are also a significant health hazard. Smart policies, incentives and infrastructure for electric vehicles (powered increasingly by clean energy) create multiple local benefits.
Avoid energy waste: The energy that powers our homes, schools and workplaces accounts for more than 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in our community. We want to make sure more of Lake Oswego is aware and able to access funding to help reduce the cost of energy upgrades.
Cut food waste in half: Wasted food has a huge cost, not just on your grocery bill but on the climate. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest source of emissions, just behind China and the United States. There are plenty of sensible actions to take at home, at school and in local businesses to stop food waste.
Preserve and enhance our forests: Lake Oswego has been a "Tree City USA Community" for nearly 30 years. We all benefit from trees' aesthetics, shade (lower heat exposure and cooling loads), carbon sequestration, increased property value, noise mitigation, improved air quality and local habitat. Maintaining the health and viability of our trees is one of the most cost-effective things we can do to not only mitigate climate change but to preserve one of the strongest assets of our community.
Please join us on Feb. 20 to hear about these and other actions. There is much we can do locally to ensure we preserve and improve the quality of life for current and future Lake Oswegans in a changing climate.
Eliot Metzger is co-chair of the Sustainability Advisory Board and chair of the Climate Action Working Group. Duke Castle is a co-founder of the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network and a member of the Climate Action Working Group.
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