On Monday July 28, Eugene City Council passed a Climate Recovery Ordinance that represents a new approach to local action on climate change. The ordinance:
- Codifies the City’s existing organizational and community climate goals
- Requires an assessment of current efforts to gauge progress toward existing goals
- Directs staff to develop a science-based community greenhouse gas reduction goal to achieve 350 parts per million CO2, the level deemed “safe” by climate scientists.
- Requires consistent monitoring and reporting to track progress toward established climate goals.
- Creates a mechanism for getting back on track if the City is not meeting its greenhouse gas reduction targets.By adopting the Climate Recovery Ordinance, Eugene joins a small handful of US cities that have taken the step of placing their climate goals into local law.
Proposed by Councilor Alan Zelenka, this ordinance originated from a request made by dozens of youth who testified at City Council, urging Councilors to make a stronger commitment to local climate action. The youth are affiliated with Our Children’s Trust, a national non-profit organization based in Eugene with a mission “…to compel governments in the United States and abroad to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans.”
This action also reflects community-wide desire for more aggressive action on climate change. In a random dial telephone survey of Eugene residents in 2011, 81% agreed that “climate change requires us to entirely rethink our behavior” and 75% agreed that “climate change requires much stronger regulations of greenhouse gas emissions.”
Since 2010, the City of Eugene has maintained a Community Climate and Energy Action Plan that illustrates the specific steps necessary to achieve local climate goals. The community is currently on target to meet the Council goal of reducing community-wide fossil fuel use 50% by 2030. The recent progress reports show that Eugene has made great strides in the past several years – but there’s still more that can be done, particularly with reducing emissions from city facilities and operations.