We hope persistence pays. Stillwater needs to make a plan that will allow us to know what we face with a changing climate and how we can reduce our greenhouse gases and protect our way of life. That's why a climate action plan is our Board of Directors' top priority this year. We made our case to the City Council last December, this past May, and will do so again on August 16 when the city considers its new budget.
This past Monday, Community Development Director Tim Gladhill told us encouragingly, "We certainly discussed sustainability generally as a priority," at their recent July brainstorming session. He said agrees with us that a climate plan would be a good idea going forward.
The first part of creating a climate action plan by the city would be to have a consultant do a baseline study and draw from available data to figure out Stillwater's biggest climate vulnerabilities and our greenhouse gas output. The second part would involve a panel of experts and community leaders using that information to determine the changes needed to adapt to a changing climate and reduce our carbon output.
Different for every city, climate action plans have been adopted by at least 20 cities statewide and hundreds nationwide. Each city has grappled with the consequences of hotter, wetter weather based on their own particular geography and populations. For Stillwater, we may need to know about "heat islands" that affect downtown events and tourism. Will river levels keep rising? The builders of Lowell Park never thought they would. Less snow? Less ice on the rivers and lakes? What will this mean for outdoor events in the winter, snow removal budgets, and the growing season? What about more water volume from rainstorms -- are we equipped to handle that? Are our plants and trees purchased by public works able to withstand more heat? Will our disadvantaged populations who can't afford air conditioning or transportation be affected most? A climate vulnerability and carbon footprint study by a consultant could go a long way toward planning for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
If such a study is funded and ordered, the next step in most cities is to present the findings to a panel of experts who will make specific recommendations. Their Climate Action Plan, made with public input, serves as a blueprint for all other plans, guiding decisions for everything from construction projects to purchasing decisions to school schedules. Knowing how much carbon we are generating and where it's coming from can help us to reduce it drastically.
20 Minnesota cities, including Edina, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, Richfield, Golden Valley, Bloomington, Minnetonka, Northfield, Winona, and Red Wing have climate action plans. Let's join them.
Do you think this is the right thing to do? If so, please help by calling or emailing the mayor and your city councilor and tell them you want to see the City of Stillwater create a climate action plan. Find your city councilor here: