The Good News: The Bend City Council took our proposal for a Bend Climate Action Ordinance very seriously. They listened to us and other supporters, they sought input from the business community, and they set up a subcommittee to work the issue and come back to the whole Council with a recommendation on how to proceed.
The Not So Good News: The subcommittee’s proposed a resolution on June 15 that does not include some elements that are key to effective and meaningful climate action in Bend.
First, the question of an ordinance or a resolution. Without getting too legalistic, ordinances are law, generally enforceable (conceptually anyway), and are taken seriously. Resolutions are not as binding and not always taken as seriously. We still prefer an ordinance, not because we want to establish “climate police” but because we think an ordinance would establish clear and strong policy direction for the City and community and thus set Bend on a path for effective climate action. It’s also true that many other model communities have used a resolution as their first step in defining their path forward to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So if our City Council thinks a resolution is what’s needed to build support from the business community and ensure successful implementation, we can live with that if several important changes are made.
Which brings me to the three things that need to be fixed in the Council’s draft resolution.
1. The goal we proposed for the community—reduce fossil fuels use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050, based on the best available science—has been removed from the draft resolution. It needs to be in the adopted resolution.
The draft resolution includes only a goal for City of Bend business operations. An effective and meaningful resolution must also include a communitywide goal. Why? Because it’s very likely that City of Bend’s operations are less than 5% of our community’s total emissions. A goal for only City operations is tinkering at the margins. The adopted resolution should set Bend on a trajectory to achieve meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and that means addressing community-wide emissions.
2. The timelines for recommending and adopting the Climate Action Plans to achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals are too squishy. The adopted resolution should have specific dates by which the CAPS are adopted: two years for City operation and three years for the community.
An effective and meaningful resolution must include specific deadlines for completing the Climate Action Plans. Why? Because developing and implementing Climate Action Plans (CAPs) are the heart of climate action and time is of the essence if we want to make a difference.
3. The draft resolution calls for “cost-benefit analysis” that, if interpreted traditionally, will look only at economic and financial concerns when evaluating greenhouse gas emissions strategies. The adopted resolution should state clearly that social and environmental concerns will also be considered in the cost-benefit analysis.
We support including language about cost-benefit analysis. But we want to make sure that financial costs/benefits are not the only factors considered, which is the traditional approach to cost-benefit analysis. Social and environmental concerns should also be considered to ensure the analysis is done within a broader sustainability framework. We got into this mess by only paying attention to financial and economic concerns; we won’t get out of it unless we change our approach.
And that brings me to you—how can you make a difference?
The other great thing the City Council did is set up a special meeting to hear from the community just about this issue. We respect and appreciate that—Councilors have a lot on their plates, not to mention their work and personal lives.
So now we, the supporters of meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Bend, need to show up and tell them what we think. After some presentations by the environmental and business communities, we each get up to three minutes to say speak our minds.
Here’s the scoop on the meeting:
DATE: Thursday, July 21st
TIME: 4:30 pm (Arrive by 6:00 pm if you plan to sign up for public comment.)
LOCATION: Bend City Hall, City Council Chambers, 710 NW Wall Street, Bend
Tell the City Council that you support a strong resolution that sets Bend on a path for meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Tell them that a resolution that does that should include:
- A goal for the community as a whole—reduce fossil fuels use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050—not just for City operations.
- Firm deadlines for adopting Climate Action Plans: two years for City operations and three years for the community as whole; and
- A cost benefit analysis that looks at financial, social and environmental concerns.
The Council needs a full house to make a good decision. Let’s make sure we give them one.
We hope to see you on July 21!
P.P.S. And have you signed one of our online petitions yet? If not, please do so now, even if you plan to come to the meeting on July 21. Click here to sign the petition for individuals and click here to sign the petition for businesses.