By Laurie Dougherty
Portland; Beaverton; Corvallis; Eugene; Ashland, Spokane; Boise; Tacoma; Boulder; Salem, Massachusetts – and on across the country and around the world. Where is Salem, Oregon? What these cities and others have that Salem lacks is a well-defined plan for dealing with the crisis of climate change. Climate change is real and already disrupting natural systems and cycles that we depend on for life and livelihood and the stability of our society. It will only get worse unless we take solutions into our own hands.
Salem, Oregon needs to be on this list. Why bring it up now? The city council is developing a strategic plan to define its goals for the coming years. A Climate Action Plan (CAP) fits right in with those goals. A CAP will define targets and strategies for climate protection measures that will also make Salem a healthier, more energy- and resource-efficient, resilient and forward-thinking city.
What can we do to put Salem on the list? Attend the city council’s Open House on the Salem Strategic Plan at Broadway Coffee House 1300 Broadway St.NE on June 1 at 6 pm.and support a Salem Climate Action Plan. Sign the 350 Salem OR petition at: https://350salemor.org/.
350 Salem OR has been studying how CAPs work for several months. We shared information with city staff, city councilors, and Mayor Bennett. We attended and spoke at several council meetings on the Salem Strategic Plan.
Cities have a major role to play in climate solutions because more and more people are living in cities; because the federal government is in denial and dysfunction; and because cities are directly involved with many factors that affect or are affected by climate change: building codes, land use and transportation planning, waste reduction and management, water use, public health, emergency response, and repair and maintenance of public works and infrastructure.
What does a Climate Action Plan look like? Usually, there is one plan for city government facilities and operations and one for community-wide activities. An effective CAP needs both city government commitment and community input and engagement. Using well-established tools and protocols, a city takes inventory of climate-changing emissions to establish a baseline; sets reduction targets and timelines; analyzes areas for action and defines strategies. By implementing a Climate Action Plan, Salem will do its fair share to reduce the harm from climate change and will enable residents, now and in the future, to better adapt to climate changes that can’t be avoided.
Laurie Dougherty is a Co-Coordinator of 350 Salem OR, a local affiliate of international climate action organization 350.org.