Climate

If you are not convinced that the climate is sending us a “code red” message, we don’t expect to sway you here.

But Bend’s Climate and Environment Committee agreed on Thursday it wants to consider asking the city to declare a “climate emergency.”

Is a climate emergency declaration necessary? What form would that take? Would it be symbolic? Would it require the city to devote more resources to climate initiatives?

The committee didn’t decide. It decided it wanted to talk about it more.

This committee does not set city policy. It serves as an advisory body to the Bend City Council.

The committee can’t dictate how the city spends money or what ordinances are passed. But we believe councilors will certainly take what the committee comes up with seriously.

For perspective, the city passed a climate resolution in 2016. It has goals of being carbon neutral from city facilities by 2030; reducing fuel use for city facilities and operations by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050; and reducing community -wide fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050.

The resolution has strong language in it. But no, it does not say “climate emergency.”

Many of the proposed initiatives from Bend’s Climate and Environment Committee are also just taking shape. It wants Bend to move to relying on 100% clean energy. It wants the city to adopt an energy score for homes, which is like a miles per gallon rating for your home’s energy efficiency. And there are more. For instance, one of the future topics the committee wants to discuss is the possibility of an ordinance limiting the use of natural gas in new development.

If the committee had more money and more staff, it could likely move faster. Should it ask for that as part of a climate emergency declaration? The city’s budget for the year is already done, should it be ripped up and reoriented? What gets cut to put more emphasis on climate action?

Those are questions for you, the committee and Bend city councilors. If you would like to tell the councilors your thoughts, you can email them at council@bendoregon.gov.

You could also write us a letter to the editor of up to 250 words and email it to letters@bendbulletin.com.

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