Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Should we Audit Climate Impacts as well as Business Boost for Big Events?

At $11 million the estimated impact of the Ironman competition generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm.

Front page yesterday

The downtown hotel said they "will rake in more revenue this weekend than it did over multiple consecutive months at the height of the pandemic."

It may seem mean and cramped to question such a welcome development.

Delight, pleasure, and joy are all important. During the long winter of the Pandemic we have endured a great deficit of them, and with a fourth wave developing, more dispiriting news is sure to come.

But just above that story was news about another heat wave.

Shouldn't we also assess how much new carbon pollution events like this create with the travel to and from the event as well as trips within Salem that otherwise would not have been made?

As we develop our Climate Action Plan, or perhaps this will need to be a second phase of a plan, we need to make sure that we consider transportation impacts for things like tourism.

Conference Center on a winter evening

The Conference Center exemplifies the analytical problem.

In a promo piece, "16 Facts About the Salem Convention Center's Sustainable Initiatives," they tout a range of laudable and useful projects, things like 450 solar panels, recycled building and finish materials, Silver LEED certification, the county's EarthWise certification. But nothing about transportation and emissions to and from events at the center, emissions that are pretty directly induced by the event, and wouldn't happen without the event. When they talk about transport, it's about an EV charging station for someone who is already attending an event and has already traveled to it.

To the extent that the tourism sector is also a travel sector, we need to think more critically about its emissions and how much we want to subsidize and encourage that.

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