City of Columbia continues plans for climate action despite federal rhetoric
COLUMBIA - Community members met Wednesday to discuss a plan to reduce all greenhouse emissions from the City of Columbia by 2060.
The community forum at City Hall updated residents on the planning process and provide an opportunity for the public to share what steps should be prioritized.
Members of the Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action and Adaptation Planning, city staff and consultants all joined in to host the community forum.
The task force was created after the city released the Climate Trends Summary in March. It concluded Columbia may experience wetter springs, drier summers, more days above 95 degrees and more frequent severe storms if nothing is done to reduce emissions.
Eric Hempel, a member of mayor's task force and energy educator for the office of sustainability, says this event is about the community.
"This is our second community event that we are having as we are developing Columbia's climate action and adaptation plan. The purpose here tonight is to further develop an understanding of community support and further refine our understanding of where the community stands," Hempel said.
The task force has the community members in mind, Hempel said.
"Community members taking time out of their schedules to let us know where they support action and where they'd like to see us move in a different direction."
Wednesday's event was about community input.
Every person in attendance received five orange dots to visually represent where they stand.
There were suggestions for improvement on topics ranging from transportation, housing, waste, energy and health.
People placed orange dots near suggestions they thought would be most beneficial for different topic areas.
The main goal of the plan is to reduce community emissions to 0 within 50 years in incremental steps:
35% by 2035
80% by 2050
100% by 2060
Climate change made national headlines on Black Friday. The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a 1,000 page report. It said U.S. communities are already experiencing negative health and economic impacts from climate change.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the results are misleading.
“This report is based on the most extreme modeled scenario which contradicts long-established trends. Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact,” Sanders said.
President Donald Trump also told reporters the findings are not reason for immediate action.
“Right now we’re at the cleanest we’ve ever been, and that’s very important to me. But if we’re clean and every other place on Earth is dirty that’s not so good,” the president said.
Emily Piazza, a citizen of Columbia, said she is happy the city is looking to residents for suggestions.
"I think it's important that we come together as a community because the climate change is going to affect each and every one of us and so the more people that are involved the more success we are going to see," Piazza said.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Climate Action and Adaptation Planning will gather the feedback it received tonight and formulate a plan to submit to city council by May of 2019.
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