The City and project team have published the first revision of a set of proposed strategies for our Climate Action Plan. The original was published in June. It seemed pretty chaotic and I wanted to wait for more clarity. The second, revised draft is still a welter, but we are approaching a deadline, supposedly with a Council Work Session next month, and so it merits some comment.
|It's an awkward spreadsheet format|
(and truncated here)
But before we comment, here is a really helpful typology of ways that people dismiss climate action by means of arguing for delay.
|Typology of climate delay discourses|
We will see several of them in the proposed strategies and actions listed in this current draft for our Climate Action Plan as well as the debate around them:
- No sticks, just carrots
- All talk, little action and non-transformative solutions
- Appeal to social justice (especially when talking about pricing parking or tolling)
- Change is impossible
So this might be helpful in identifying delaying action or talk and in assessing the list of proposed actions and strategies.
|Abstract of "Discourses of Climate Delay"|
Our Climate Action Plan document leads with "Increase safety of and access to active commute modes to reduce vehicle miles traveled" (OTL1). Right off that's a carrot, no stick, and it also places the primary goal in a secondary position.
The proper primary goal should be "Reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled." Yet even that is not enough. It should be "Reduce VMT by XX% in 2035." It should be measurable, otherwise it is too squishy and symbolic.
And then under that goal we have nested a set of actions. Increasing safety and access is a means to that goal and a secondary, supporting action, inviting people not to make a driving trip.
|Most of these are carrots, no sticks|
The tone and structure here is backwards, essentially protecting autoism. It suggests we are not yet very serious.
It's not until the 27th item that we get to paid parking.
And with the 37th and 38th item, we get the old canard of "reduce congestion and emissions from idling." This really has no place in a serious plan for reducing emissions. The goal is not to make the driving trip, not to speed it along by reducing congestion and idling.
|The congestion and idling myth|
Reducing idling doesn't help us here.
|Remember this from last September?|
We should eliminate the driving trips, not speed cars through intersections, parking lots, driveways, and new practice of "ecodriving." (Non-transformative solution!) The ecodrive is the drive not taken.
Maybe there will be more to say in greater detail later, but on first glance the list does not look so promising. The total number of items is 173, and many of them, perhaps near half even, are identified as having "low" potential for greenhouse gas reductions. The list looks padded out with filler and symbol, and it is hard to see any total shape and a real path to that 50% reduction by 2035.
One thing that would be helpful is to pull out a list of those items identified as having "high" greenhouse gas reduction potential. Let's see those actions we think will be most successful, see the "suggested timeframe" and estimated cost range. Shouldn't that be the center of any plan?
|Shouldn't this be the way we evaluate ideas?|
We still haven't seen even a basic swag at charting effectiveness and cost. Not to mention any modeling showing analytically that a 50% reduction by 2035 is plausible under this current proposal.
This list as we have it is mainly symbolic, not oriented to actual reductions.
So it is hard to look at the list and take a very positive first impression from it. It looks instead like it continues to evade the heart of things and is not positioning Salem for success on a 50% reduction by 2035.
|Earlier this month|