City to create climate task force

Alyssa Dykman, Piedmont’s sustainability program manager, at Tuesday's meeting (via KCOM)

The City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to form a task force charged with enabling and hastening the shift from residential natural gas use to all-electric, and to help meet ever-more-stringent local, state and federal climate-related guidelines.

The task force members will be appointed by the city administrator, and council members said Tuesday night that they want as diverse a group of members as possible, beyond the core of familiar local volunteers who routinely step up for such service. Councilman Tom Ramsey said the city has a wealth of experts in diverse areas, and hopes a few of them will populate this task force. Added Alyssa Dykman, Piedmont’s sustainability program manager, “Ultimately, we want to reach groups that haven’t been reached before.”

The City of Piedmont in 2010 adopted its first Climate Action Plan, and in March 2018 adopted the Piedmont CAP “2.0,” which includes the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and 80% below 2005 levels by 2050. According to a city staff report, six months after CAP “2.0,” adoption, the state set two bold new climate goals for 2045 — a target of 100% carbon-free electricity, and a new statewide goal to achieve carbon neutrality no later than that date and achieve and maintain net negative emissions thereafter.

Additionally, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change – has called for reducing global emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. These two goals aligned with the targets set by the Biden Administration, which aim for a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. These changes, the staff report said, render Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan out of compliance with current state and federal targets, thus warranting amendments to the city’s plan.

Dykman said she hopes this task force will serve as a sounding board for various climate action-related ideas to move Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan forward. As did Ramsey, Dykman said she envisions the task force tapping into local expertise on these matters and otherwise “more broadly engage the community” on climate-related issues, she said. 

The charge of this new task force will be helping guide development of an “Existing Building Electrification Strategy” to help make it easier for Piedmont residents to shift from natural gas use to all-electric alternatives. This is important locally, Dykman said, because about half of all greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas used in Piedmont homes.

The council was originally to have decided whether to create what was billed as a  “temporary climate action advisory committee,” with five voting members selected by the council, in a similar way to how other city committees are filled. But council members opted for a group whose members will be selected by the city administrator, and no specific number of task force members was set. Councilwoman Conna McCarthy suggested the task force members could offer challenges as part of a “dynamic conversation.”

Councilwoman Betsy Smegal Andersen acknowledged that the city’s effort to meet climate goals may meet resistance. But she and Mayor Jen Cavenaugh said carrots are preferable to sticks. “It’s not an us-versus-them thing,” Andersen said. “These are changes people want to make.”

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One thought on “City to create climate task force

  1. Dynamic conversation is all well and good but when twice surveyed, 66% of Piedmonters supported home electrification. Dynamic leadership is what’s needed now if Piedmont is going to achieve its GHG reduction targets and a year from now this committee will hopefully have a plan that Council can act on.

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