Emission reduction methods, clean energy sources, land-use policies that reduce sprawl and energy efficient transportation options. These are all goals of the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement that challenges cities across the country to act on a local level to reduce global warming.
About 200 mayors have signed onto the agreement, and the Columbia-Boone County Environment and Energy Commission plans to ask local leaders to add their names to the list in the next month.
The agreement, issued by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, represents a commitment to environmentally friendly practices. Andrew Spain, chairman of the Environment and Energy Commission, believes the tenets of the agreement are important for Columbia to consider as it grows.
“It’s important to recognize that the decisions we make today have long-term effects,” Spain said. “This agreement could help the city grow in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.”
The agreement was issued on Feb. 16, 2005, the same day that the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol went into effect for 141 countries that ratified the protocol. The protocol, which the United States did not ratify, would have set legally binding targets for the United States to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. The United States would have been required to reduce such emissions to 7 percent below the levels in 1990 by 2012.
Nickels started the agreement in response to the United States’ failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, according to his Web site. The agreement outlines steps cities can take to reduce emissions and conserve energy.
The Environment and Energy Commission has prepared a letter to present to the City Council that pinpoints four actions Columbia could take to meet the agreement’s goals, Spain said.
The four goals include: adopting land-use policies that reduce sprawl; promoting energy efficient transportation such as bicycle trails, carpooling and public transportation; increasing the use of clean, alternative energy sources; and making energy efficiency a priority in building codes and individual energy use.
Columbia is already taking actions to meet some of the goals, Environment and Energy commissioner Liz Deken said. Plans to increase biking and walking spaces are a good example, she said, but because of sprawl, people may live too far from where they work and would be unable to use those spaces.
The mayor’s agreement was brought to the commission’s attention by Chris Hayday of the Sierra Club, who said Columbia should sign onto the agreement since the city has already shown commitment to environmentally sound practices.
“Columbia has a long history of finding creative solutions to environmental problems,” he said.
The decisions Columbia must make in the coming years to meet growing energy demand is an opportunity to make smarter decisions regarding the environment, Hayday said.
By signing onto the agreement, Columbia would be able to share ideas with other cities for meeting the agreement’s goals, Deken said. “The Environment and Energy Commission could use the agreement as a resource to compare what other cities of similar size are doing,” she said.
Other Missouri cities that have signed on, according to the Seattle mayor’s Web site, include St. Louis and Kansas City.