Waco Friends of the Climate members commented on the City of Waco 2020-2021 budget at the Council meeting Sept 1, 2020
From Alan Northcutt:
I am VERY GRATEFUL to about 7 or 8 of our members who commented in writing, decrying the lack of budgeting far climate action. I reviewed the 375 page budget using word search for key words. Pretty sad that in a 470 million dollar budget funds can't be found for any climate mitigation. The following is the comment which I made verbally over Zoom.
I commend the City Council for following the scientific experts in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. But the same expert peer reviewed science is telling us we must respond to the climate crisis NOW—that we must slash greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030.
Like COVID, we must act now to save lives later. If we don't join other cities which are taking action now, and follow the US Conference of Mayors recommendation of 100% clean energy, we risk failing the deadlines and reaching tipping points where man loses all control of the climate system.
And don't forget that we ARE feeling climate impacts in Waco: rising temperatures with record 114° in 2018, record drought with crop loss, record flooding, and our current heat wave with multiple days of heat index over 110° can be deadly for normal healthy people.
And yet this budget fails to address the climate emergency. The introduction states a strategic goal of "support for sustainability and resiliency." But "sustainability" is never mentioned again. And also, never mentioned are the terms "climate change," "global warming," "solar panel," "electric car," or "emissions." Ignoring this crisis will NOT make it go away. If the world followed Waco's inaction in this the global temperature would increase 3°C or 4°C, heating incompatible with civilization as we know it. Our tourism would be gone.
Thus, we oppose this proposed budget and call for the Council to demonstrate it will again follow the science and will fund specific action on the climate emergency NOW. The challenge is huge and complex, requiring cutting emissions by the City government—and by residents and businesses. Thus, creation of a Department of
Sustainability is a must—certainly as vital as the Ranger Museum Department. We call for the Council to provide funding for one or more specific items to make sustainability a priority. Here are a few actions the City can take now:
- Require rooftop solar on all new City buildings
- Consider an electric car replacement for each retiring vehicle of any type, including yard maintenance equipment. TCEQ EV grants are available until Jan 2021.
- Replace all light bulbs with LEDs.
- Install Level 2 EV chargers at critical locations in parks, in shopping centers, at City Hall, etc.
- Perform energy efficiency audits on city buildings
- Require electricity only, no gas, in all new City construction.
- Require rooftop solar on all business construction where roof is adequate.
- Undertake a "meatless Mondays" campaign for City employees and for residents—for wellness and for the climate.
- Revise City investments to divest from fossil fuels.
- Be certain new or replaced HVAC systems contain refrigerants which are NOT greenhouse gases, per the Kigali Amendment.
- Offer incentives for citizens to use renewable electricity, install rooftop solar and purchase electric vehicles (EVs).
- Decrease employee airline travel and purchase carbon offsets.
After our comments the Councilpersons voted, without any discussion on climate, unanimously to pass the budget. In this case the public hearing on the budget seemed to be a formality--they were committed to pass the budget no matter what the comments.