On Monday Council will hold a formal Work Session on the Climate Action Plan. But at the moment it's a dud, a sophisticated kind of climate delay discourse rather than a plan for reducing emissions.
If the plan is going to be at all serious, more than a Potemkin plan for show, it's clear that Council needs to stage an intervention and redirect the planning process to ensure the plan is reasonably likely to meet the goals.
Principals and an Enthusiasm Gap?
One of the biggest problems with the Climate Action Plan process has been demonstrated recently. The principal City planners don't appear to believe in it. When Staff have been given the opportunity to lean into the plan, they leaned
away. They may say "climate matters," but their actions show they may not actually believe this.
In one case, when City Staff had a direct opportunity to coordinate and integrate climate planning with other formal planning activities, they not only passed on that, they acted as if climate didn't matter and even hindered other, more important activities.
|Primary frame: Emissions or Parking demand?|
One of the principal City planners on the Climate Action Plan also led the Geer Park Master Plan update, and given every opportunity to advocate for climate action, they showed they may just be going through the motions only and did not believe in the climate action plan. By their actions, they seemed to disparage the Climate Action Plan
|Is there still this lack of clarity about emissions?|
Separately, in a Salem Reporter article on climate, the other principal City planner had every opportunity to say, "here are the most important things we can do to reduce emissions," and instead they said we "need to build more resiliency." We need to endure and adapt to the climate emergency, not prevent its worst excesses, they appear to think. From the piece:
The city of Salem started working on a climate action plan in Aug. 2020 and is close to completing it. There’s a work session with the Salem City Council on Monday, Sept. 20.
Patricia Farrell, Salem’s parks and natural resources planning manager, said not many of the people the climate task force has talked to commented pessimistically, “though the subject is daunting.”
“Instead, people are more inclined towards the urgency of doing something. People want to know what they, as individuals, can do and how their choices matter,” she said in an email.
She said the results of the survey show the need to build more resiliency in the community, which is part of the Climate Action Plan.
With the Geer Park plan and in comments to media, City Staff in charge of the Climate Action Plan have chosen not to advocate for climate, not to advocate for reducing emissions, not to advocate for the plan.