Jennifer Wesselhoff: We can lead the way on climate
Park City Pulse
Pragmatic trailblazing. That’s how one leader describes the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact. It is also one reason the Chamber/Bureau’s board of directors recently agreed unanimously to add us as a signatory. Bipartisan is another phrase associated with the compact; the effort has been resolutely nonpolitical.
More than 150 business, government, faith and civic institutions have signed on since last fall, as have many Wasatch Back leaders, such as Park City Mayor Andy Beerman, Summit County Councilor Chris Robinson, the mayors of Heber City and Midway — and our own Jason Hodell of Skullcandy.
The compact’s drafters are on a mission to “take politics out of the (climate) issue, come up with pragmatic solutions and start a dialogue,” as Christian Gardner, the University of Utah trustee who heads the compact’s steering committee, stated at last fall’s launch.
We can get behind that sentiment and the need for action on air quality and climate.
As a business advocacy organization and the leader in managing Summit County’s tourism industry — our largest — we know visitors’ immense impact on our economy, environment, air quality, lifestyle and future requires exactly the sensible, balanced management the compact calls for.
What is it that so many Utah leaders are endorsing? The compact is based on the Utah Roadmap on climate and air quality, commissioned by the Utah Legislature in 2019 and drafted by the University of Utah’s Gardner Policy Institute. The Roadmap recommends policies Utahns can broadly support — more transportation choices and housing options, preserving open space, improving energy efficiency in buildings and linking economic development with transportation and housing availability.
It also proposes the state government convert vehicles to alternative fuels, adopt energy efficiency in state buildings, establish telework targets, provide additional funding for reforestation and invest more in energy planning.
The compact singles out tourism and winter recreation as sectors that will benefit from these policies. This is undoubtedly true. Our robust solar industry and abundant clean energy resources give us more opportunities than most states to achieve the benefits of independence from fossil fuels. Progress on clean energy and air will make Summit County and Park City even more attractive to travelers, entrepreneurs and the next generation of innovators in all fields. In addition, the compact dovetails with Park City’s environmental goals that include zero waste and running on renewable energy citywide by 2030.
It also correlates with our leadership on a Park City Sustainable Tourism Plan. In late July, we hosted a meeting between Global Sustainable Tourism Council reps and local community leaders to assess Park City’s status relative to more than three dozen GSTC sustainability criteria. Based on the GSTC’s forthcoming analysis, the Chamber/Bureau will launch a robust and inclusive community conversation, producing a sustainability plan with specific goals, strategies, tactics, timelines and accountability assignments.
We look forward to an exciting process and a final plan that sets out our own Park City roadmap, preserving our environment and lifestyle for generations, and adding to our reputation as a tourism sustainability leader.
Pragmatic trailblazing. The phrase neatly describes the Utah Climate and Clean Air Compact. It also resonates well with Park City and our community’s drive for a bright, clean, green and sustainable future.
Jennifer Wesselhoff is president and CEO of the Park City Chamber/Bureau. She served for 13 years as president/CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, where she led development of Arizona’s first sustainable tourism plan. She is a certified destination management executive and a sustainability consultant, and loves skiing and hiking with new friends.
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