Park City adds urgency to green goals, accelerating timeline
December 1, 2018
Park City on Thursday added urgency to its environmental efforts, deciding a crucial municipal government goal needs to be pursued at a stepped-up pace amid worries the climate is changing more quickly than anticipated.
The Park City Council approved an accelerated timeline for the citywide goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions. City Hall had wanted to reach that level by 2032. The City Councilors on Thursday moved the date up two years, to 2030. The net-zero goal for municipal operations remains at 2022.
The City Council voted 5-0 in support of the accelerated timeline and received testimony in support of the move. The unanimous vote was expected after earlier talks showed there was support from each of the City Councilors and Mayor Andy Beerman. The crowd applauded the decision.
City Councilor Becca Gerber said the municipal government should continue to push the environmental efforts while another City Councilor, Lynn Ware Peek, said the move will have a ripple effect. City Councilor Tim Henney said the private sector recognizes the importance of the work as well.
The mayor said it is important to act as a "sterling example," describing that other communities like Salt Lake City and Moab are watching Park City.
The elected officials, meanwhile, received testimony in support of the accelerated timeline as speakers indicated Park City could be a leader in the efforts. Some of the comments touched on disparate topics like yard waste and transportation options between Park City and Salt Lake City International Airport.
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Julie Schultz, the sustainability manager at Deer Valley Resort, was one of the speakers supporting the 2030 goal.
"We need to get the world on board," she told the mayor and City Council.
Park City sees a changing climate as a threat to the long-term viability of a ski industry that drives the local economy as well as a threat to the wider environment. Leaders are worried a changing climate could lead to wintertime rain instead of snow at the lower elevations, as an example. They are also concerned with the possibility that a changing climate could lead to devastating wildfires.
The decision on Thursday was influenced by a recent report by the United Nations that detailed what the organization determined to be a quickening pace of climate change. The elected officials in October signaled their interest in considering a condensed timeline for the net-zero goal.
The City Hall net-zero goal does not call for the elimination of emissions altogether. The municipal government instead intends to cut emissions through a variety of environmental programs and offset those that remain through alternatives like a sequestration program.
The 2030 goal is especially notable since Salt Lake City may compete to host the Winter Olympics of that year. Park City would have a significant role in hosting the games, and leaders would see the Olympic efforts as an opportunity to make significant progress on the environmental goals.
Luke Cartin, the environmental sustainability manager for City Hall, briefly mentioned the potential ties to the environmental aspirations of the Olympics.