The first question asked after a recent Zoom presentation on the Bainbridge Island Climate Change Plan was what can individuals do to jump-start the process.
Lara Hansen, a member of the BI Climate Change Advisory Committee, said look at the list of action items in the presentation and figure out which you can do as a person, and what your business or groups you belong to also can do.
Nine expert volunteers started monthly meetings on the Climate Action Plan in 2017. The City Council OK’d their findings in November.
Councilman Joe Deets said it was one committee “he fought tooth and nail to get on. I love where we’re at. But we have a lot of challenges ahead. It’s going to push all of us – citizens and the city – to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Committee chairman Michael Cox said it will take sacrifice. “Do you really have to see Aunt Mable four times a year?” he asked as one example. Other examples he gave included maybe not going on that airplane trip or maybe downsizing and moving into an apartment.
In moderating the presentation, Cox explained the 18 climate change action items for 2021 that Hansen referred to:
1. Use the adaptation certification tool that will be available.
2. Address equity issues with climate change.
3. Hire the city’s new climate mitigation adaption officer. “That’s very rare for this size of a city,” he said. Ron Logghe with the city said later that hire could happen in the second quarter, after the city deals with 15 openings it has now.
4. Develop cost estimates and staff needs.
4. Update Greenhouse Gas Emissions inventory.
5. Green our energy supply with local generation like solar panels. Work with Puget Sound Energy.
6. Reduce energy demand by developing green building standards with incentives.
7. Prohibit combustible fuels like propane.
8. Coordinate with Green Building Task Force
9. Initiate green energy and building fund to help low-income folks with the transition
10. Expand sea level rise assessment
11. Coordinate with Sustainable Transportation Task Force
12. Transition city fleet to electric
13. Renovate ferries to electric
14. Set up charging stations for vehicles
15. Forest management – identify trees and plants impacted by climate change good or bad
16. Ban single-use plastics, like bags in stores
17. Web site
18. Emergency preparedness equitable access
Those 18 are for the first year. The plan includes 180, including 79 listed as “priority.”
Asked how cooperative PSE will be working with the city, Deets admitted it will be a challenge. “They’re a huge corporation, and we’re not a very big city,” he said. “We need to have a united front on this.” It was brought up later that green energy and energy efficiencies are part of the franchise agreement, so that gives the city some leverage.
As for the city’s financial commitment, Logghe said there is $500,000 in the budget, along with paying for the new position. There is also $600,000 from car tab tax money. Cox said the city also has invested by creating numerous task forces and comittees. “Together it’s a really robust program,” he said.
In setting up the committee, it was tasked with updating climate assessments, doing a greenhouse gas inventory, getting community and city input, receiving approval of the plan, and then implementing the plan and monitoring progress.
In its greenhouse gas inventory, it found 53% comes from electricity and 34% from transportation. The Climate Action Plan wants to reduce those emissions by 25% by 2025, 60% by 2035 and 90% by 2045.
As for next steps the presentation says working with the city and every taxing district like parks and schools to get buy-in. They want to broaden their reach beyond the island, getting the state and federal governments to pass climate laws.
Community engagement is key to success. Inspiring action to partner with community organizations is the best way for meaningful change, the presentation says.