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Candidate question #15: How will you help Flagstaff become carbon neutral?
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CANDIDATE QUESTION #15

Candidate question #15: How will you help Flagstaff become carbon neutral?

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Flagstaff City Council and mayoral candidates have been given the chance to answer a weekly question in no more than 150 words. This week’s question is: The city council unanimously declared a climate emergency this summer and set the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. How will you move the city toward that goal when doing so will likely mean making unpopular decisions that impact nearly every aspect of the city and its residents?

Mayor

Paul Deasy

The longer the City waits to act, the harder and more expensive addressing climate change will be.  Declaring a climate emergency is the easy part.  It’s just a piece of paper unless we actually follow through with it, which the next Council should do.

The City Council is going to have to rethink many things, big and small, to reach the goal of carbon neutrality by 2030. One strategy the City can pursue is forming public-private partnerships with companies and startups in the climate action industry. We can simultaneously create good jobs for Flagstaff, work towards our climate action goals, and potentially further the larger cause with innovations developed in Flagstaff. We have already seen some great local startups in this arena. I’d like to help grow the industry locally. 

Charlie Odegaard

If I remember correctly I was the first councilmember to propose in supporting that we get to carbon neutrality by 2030. I also voted for the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, but with the resolution we speed up our commitment by 20 years. I don’t think there will be unpopular decisions, for I believe we as a community want to be a carbon neutral.

Moving us towards carbon neutrality is happening at all levels of government and businesses, not just here locally. In Arizona we led supporting federal level resolution, The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend (HR-763). We also urged the Arizona Corporation Commission to advance clean energy goals for the state.

I’m excited for the opportunities of partnerships with utility companies and other government agencies with our goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

Council

Becky Daggett

Climate change is already impacting northern Arizona. We’re experiencing more severe weather patterns and the resulting drought and heat increases the likelihood of intense catastrophic wildfires. The cost of inaction is much higher than the cost of action.

Flagstaff’s climate action goals are ambitious and it is the city’s duty to lead by example. Our climate goals must be front and center in all decision making. Transportation projects, all municipal construction, and all fleet purchases must be undertaken in a way that helps us meet them.

Flagstaff is populated by innovative and entrepreneurial thinkers and this is an opportunity to employ this ingenuity to create a livable future. Our concept of climate action must shift from one of dread and deprivation to recognizing that inaction isn’t an option and that necessary changes can lead to a different, and better, quality of life.

Anthony Garcia

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Growing up here in Flagstaff I’ve experienced firsthand how our climate has changed and witnessed its ecological impacts. As an adolescent, I remember there being snowpack on the ground, to some extent, from mid-November through March. Now, our snowfall seems to melt away within a few days. Also, throughout the 80’s, it was very unusual to see rainfall in the winter. Now it’s a regular occurrence to see rain during a snowstorm in January.

In 2019 I became climate ambassador for the City of Flagstaff. In this role my goal is to help educate our community about how we can do more with less. A practical approach to reducing personal energy consumption, lessening municipal solid waste and increasing water conservation practices are actionable first steps in reaching toward carbon neutrality.

Infusing sustainability into the foundation of every department within the city will help us achieve our 2030 goals, holistically.

Eric Senseman

I will help move the city towards its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030 by following the guidance of the Flagstaff Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) Implementation Strategy, which was developed in accordance with the CAAP.

The Implementation Strategy aims to “[identify] a responsible City department for each strategy as well as a timeline for taking action.” It includes tracking metrics and a reporting strategy to gauge its effectiveness, seeks to incorporate feedback from community leaders, and relies on community outreach. City decisions should be made in accordance with this Strategy, provided that the subsequent metrics and reports show that the Strategy is working effectively.

This is also an opportunity to recognize the importance of non-vehicular modes of transportation in Flagstaff, and to continue to focus efforts on expanding bike lanes and trails for easy, safe and environmentally-friendly commuting.

Eric Nolan

I’d look for opportunities to collaborate with students of various grade levels, and the broader community, to build educational forums on what we have available to us in reaching carbon neutrality by 2030. Our future generations have a right to be a part of an honest conversation on responsibility of resources and how we sustain our livelihoods here in Flagstaff.

Additionally, I think it would help move things forward to have stakeholders of various sorts come together through a series of events in re-evaluating our Regional Plan, Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, city reports, and our city budget. COVID is having an impact on our tax revenue and this places a limitation on funding opportunities. We have a lot of smart, talented, and dedicated people working on this issue but we need broader support from our greater community if we’re going to realistically reach our goal.

Miranda Sweet

I look at our move towards carbon neutrality as a multi layered approach.  The city has adopted a priority based budget which means the community has input on our budget items. Important decisions are being made and I hope that having community input will help everyone feel invested in goals that are set forth, such as carbon neutrality.  Council also has the Climate Action and Adaptation plan which is a great roadmap to use in all decisions regarding our city.

I will work to make sure our climate action goals are not just words but actions.  The CAAP makes a great checklist that gives us the tools to ensure we remain on point.  2030 is not that far away, and no one said this would be easy.  The Flagstaff community does a great job tackling tough issues and I believe we can work together to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.

Jim McCarthy

I voted for the climate emergency declaration because we are entering a time of climate crisis.  The gulf states are experiencing monster storms.  Drought is more common.  California forests are burning at an unprecedented rate; our forests and watersheds could be next.  We must act.  Engagement is not free, but delay would be even more costly.

While Flagstaff will address climate change, an important benefit of our climate declaration will be to encourage our state and federal governments to act.  Our leadership will encourage absolutely essential federal and worldwide action.

We should include a climate-protection perspective in all our decisions.  For example, I supported building code upgrades for improved insulation, to reduce energy consumption (and to save money with lower utility bills).  Our community will support reasonable actions; for instance, our voters approved bonding to protect our forest watersheds.  I sense substantial support for the necessary action. 

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