Park City mayor likens climate change fight to world war, a depression, moon mission
Park City Mayor Andy Beerman sees the fight against climate change as something that is tantamount to the struggles of a world war, the action needed to combat the worst of the economic downturns or the drive toward the moon.
The mayor, speaking on Wednesday evening on a panel that addressed climate change and air quality, told the crowd at the Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library the efforts against a warming planet will be seen in the future as this age’s key struggle.
“Every generation has something that defines them, whether it’s a world war, whether it’s a depression, whether it’s putting a man on the moon. I think climate change is going to define this era,” Beerman told a crowd that appeared heavily weighted toward people who hold similar ideals.
Beerman appeared alongside the mayors of Heber City and Midway as well as a panel of experts during a town hall organized by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Beerman, a first-term mayor, has made addressing climate change and the wider idea of sustainability a hallmark of his administration.
City Hall sees itself as having some of the most ambitious climate change-fighting goals in the country. The municipal government is striving for a net-zero carbon goal for municipal functions by 2022 and citywide by 2030. A net-zero program typically involves reducing the use of energies that create emissions and pursuing offsets of some sort for emissions that remain. It does not call for the elimination of emissions, though.
Park City leaders see a warming climate as someday threatening the ski industry that drives the economy. There is also concern about climate change leading to the increased chance of devastating wildfires and other environmental catastrophes.
Beerman spoke about operating the Treasure Mountain Inn on Main Street, describing the green steps it took. He said energy-efficient light bulbs were used, a solar-power system was installed and credits of clean-burning energies were purchased.
“It was an old hotel, built in 1964. It also happened to be the first hotel to go carbon neutral in the western U.S.,” Beerman said.
He said air conditioners that run on electricity were installed. They are highly efficient and offsets for the energy used are bought, he said, comparing the efficiency of the air conditioning at the Treasure Mountain Inn to the systems used in Europe and Japan.
“As far as air conditioning, ironically no one needed air conditioning in Park City 20 years ago. We only put air conditioning in the hotel 10 years ago,” Beerman said.
The mayor said there is enthusiasm in younger people to address a changing climate. He said there are only “a few years left to make a difference.”
“This next generation — they have not politicized this. This is something that has to be done. And I’m confident they’re going to put the energy into it to make it happen, and we just need to set them up for success and not spoil it in the meantime,” Beerman also said.
The mayor of Midway, Celeste Johnson, meanwhile, acknowledged the community she leads has not been at the forefront of the issue. She said protecting open spaces and ensuring agricultural land remains are important to maintaining clean air. Kelleen Potter, the Heber City mayor, also said the issue is not a priority for the elected officials in her community. Potter said the best solutions are crafted through bipartisanship. She also said there are unique opportunities in Heber City to aggressively pursue solar energy.
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The planning committee and the newly formed task forces will continue to work on the master planning priorities and will present to the Board of Education at its meeting Dec. 17.