Park City wants bold environmental pledges made elsewhere
March 22, 2016
Park City leaders have pledged to cut emissions in the community over the next 16 years.
They could also urge other local governments to make a similar pledge.
Mayor Jack Thomas and the Park City Council on Thursday are scheduled to discuss whether to pass a resolution that would invite others to adopt the goal.
It would be a bold statement by a small community to urge others to follow its lead on a critical plank in City Hall’s wide-ranging environmental programs. It is unknown what sort of reception the statement would receive.
Park City enjoys a high-profile status among small communities in Utah and is known nationally and internationally as a mountain resort. It is not clear, though, whether Park City leaders could influence the actions of other government officials regarding the highly charged issues of environmentalism and climate change.
City Hall early in the week released a draft of the resolution that the mayor and City Council will consider asking others to adopt. The resolution outlines a desire by a municipal government to achieve what is known as "net zero" in carbon emissions by 2022 with the goal of the wider community reaching the goal by 2032, the same target dates adopted by Park City earlier.
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Net zero in carbon emissions does not require the complete reduction of emissions in a community. Rather, it typically involves reducing the use of emissions-creating energies as well as some sort of offset for any emissions that remain.
The resolution drafted by Park City for other places to consider says "Climate Change is deeply affecting our community through changes in weather patterns including droughts, volatile precipitation events, and warmer temperatures."
It says "local governments are the front line of the climate change" and that "grassroots efforts are nimble and more directly affected by the impacts of Climate Change." It calls Park City’s goal "audacious."
Ann Ober, City Hall’s regional policy and energy director, drafted a report to the elected officials accompanying the resolution indicating that cities have contacted Park City officials since the goal was adopted in 2015. The report also says Park City, given its size, needs support from others to make a broader impact.
"Park City is a relatively small community. In order to affect Climate Change, we must have other communities join us in achieving a no carbon lifestyle as soon as possible," the report says.
Ober, though, cautions in the report that "taking a leadership role on a topic that is unpopular in the state could negatively impact relationships at the state legislature and in surrounding, more conservative communities."
Park City has pursued an aggressive environmental program over the past decade, spanning two mayors and the various City Councilors who have served during that time. City Hall’s environmental programs range from a municipal fleet that runs on cleaner-burning fuel to upgrades to municipal buildings meant to reduce emissions.
Leaders argue that a warming climate could someday threaten the ski industry that is critical to the Park City economy.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the topic and cast a vote at a meeting on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building. A hearing is planned prior to a possible vote.