Mesa is “going green.”
Last week, Mesa joined the likes of Stockholm, London, New York City and Portland – which all have formal plans to achieve “carbon neutrality,” viewed by many as a crucial step to curbing climate change.
In Mesa, that means “aspirational goals” of getting rid of 90 percent of garbage, cutting the city’s carbon footprint in half by 2030 and using exclusively renewable energy by 2050.
Less than four months after the idea was proposed for study, the city has a Climate Action Plan.
City Council unanimously approved a plan that “represents the City’s commitment to proactively and responsibly protect and conserve Mesa’s environment and natural resources,” according to Mayor John Giles.
Vice Mayor Jenn Duff called for a sustainability advisory board to be created.
“This is a long-term plan,” she noted.
“I hope…we are looked back in 2050
as a generation that took a stance against climate change and saved the Earth,” she added.
Giles noted the plan’s goal is to lower the city’s climate impact and serve as a guide for sustainable growth.
The plan passed without discussion June 21; there was extensive discussion on the matter during a study session the week before.
No mention was made about Apple, Google and other huge, water-sucking and energy-burning operations the city is recruiting to its “Data Center Alley.”
Rather, the plan focuses on operations the city directly controls.
Mesa’s Climate Action Plan sets four “Aspirational Goals”:
• Carbon Neutrality:
Reduce the carbon footprint of City
operations by 50 percent by 2030 and
achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 by
reducing greenhouse gas emissions
and enhancing carbon sinks.
• Renewable Energy:
Prioritize the use of renewable,
resilient energy to achieve 100 percent
renewable energy by 2050.
• Materials Management:
Manage material responsibly and
divert 90 percent of waste from
the landfill by 2050.
• Community Action:
Develop community-based action
items to be incorporated into the
Climate Action Plan.
“I don’t know how attainable those goals are. I hope they are,” Giles commented during a study session.
According to a presentation by Scott Bouchie, director of the city’s Environmental Management and Sustainability Department, “Mesa’s aspirational goal of carbon neutrality put us on the global stage along with: London, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, Stockholm, Toronto, Boulder, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland and Washington DC.”
Bouchie called the plan “a guiding document” that “will lay out some specific actions...the next phase of the plan will be to reach out to the community.”
The presentation gave a picture of the city’s current “carbon footprint.”
The city’s biggest energy users are mobile construction, street lighting, building electricity, employee commutes and water delivery services combine for more than 80 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the plan, city departments will focus on energy, air quality, heat mitigation, water stewardship, materials management and food systems.
In an interview with the Tribune, Giles stressed “The big part of the plan is community engagement.”
While the city is focused on reducing its carbon footprint, big developments around the city in the last few years likely are expanding carbon emissions generated within Mesa’s city limits.
Asked if he could see a time when Mesa would require companies coming to the city to participate in the plan, Giles said that would not be necessary.
“The types of companies coming to Mesa are the biggest, most successful corporations in the world. Most of them, if not all of them, are very engaged in responding to climate changes … those are their core values,” Giles said.
“For example,” he continued, “when Apple moved into the Elliot Road Technology Corridor, their policy was to generate a lot of solar energy to compensate for the energy they were consuming. Most big corporations already have a climate plan.”
For more information: mesaaz.gov/climateaction. ′