Resolutions are sometimes just the beginning

Climate Solutions Roundtable in Salt Lake City

Climate Solutions Roundtable on May 8, 2018, including Salt Lake City mayor Jackie Biskupski (center). On the back row, starting at left, are CCLer Dave Folland, SLC Sustainability Department manager Tyler Poulson, and CCLer Bill Barron.

Resolutions are sometimes just the beginning

By Alex Amonette

CCL recently reached a milestone of 100 municipal endorsements urging Congress to support Carbon Fee and Dividend (CFD). To my delight, one of them is Narberth, PA, where my maternal grandparents lived! Every day, more U.S. cities and towns are joining this list.

Sometimes passing a resolution is just the beginning of additional exciting, powerful climate action from cities, as was the case in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bill Barron, CCL’s Regional Coordinator for the “Wild West” region and Salt Lake City steering committee member, tells the story.

Initial endorsement

“In 2015, I met with a Salt Lake City council member who is a neighbor and friend and asked her if she would endorse CFD and talk with the rest of the city council about a resolution,” Bill says. “I shared with her the Santa Fe, NM, resolution and others. In November 2015, Salt Lake City passed a unanimous joint resolution written in part by the Sustainability Division. In 2016, Jacqueline Biskupski was elected mayor and became co-chair of Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. She elevated ‘Sustainability’ from a division to a department, directed by Vicki Bennett. Last summer, we worked with the Sustainability Department and Mayor Biskupski, which led to an endorsement of CFD.”

Here’s a powerful statement from Mayor Biskupski, endorsing CFD and describing why and how mayors all over the U.S. can act on climate change.

Stepping it up

Bill continues, “Then, we asked if Mayor Biskupski could leverage her support of CFD with mayors nationally. We had a number of meetings and with little forward movement, Tyler Poulson, Program Manager for the Sustainability Department suggested a Mayors Roundtable with local municipalities. Partnering with the Mayor’s Office and the Sustainability Department we came up with an invite list and set the date May 8, 2018.”

This post on the mayor’s blog tells the story about this meeting, which 10 local governments ultimately attended, representing 750,000 residents—that’s 24 percent of Utah’s population.

Bill says, “At the roundtable we covered CCL, our growth, our focus, and values. Local physicist Rob Davies spoke of local impacts of climate change, and economist Yoram Bauman presented about carbon pricing. Afterwards we broke into smaller groups with a person fielding questions in each group.”

After the roundtable, CCL volunteers were ready to follow up. Bill says, “We mobilized CCL volunteers in those towns to reach out to mayors and city councils. The mayor’s office sent out an initial thank you note, the Sustainability Department created a boilerplate follow-up email for us to populate, and we in CCL took on the follow up task.”

Bill adds, “Developing connections over time has led to great results. With the help of the city, we have some really great leads that we can pursue and know that Salt Lake City is 100% behind all of it.”

Extending the reach

Bill says, “So far, the roundtable has led to three meetings with mayors. We have also connected with city council members, and there are five municipal resolutions in planning and development. Moab (pop. 5046) unanimously passed resolution #32-2018 urging Congress to levy a revenue neutral fee on carbon in fossil fuels on July 10.”

“Bill Barron and the CCL team in Utah have been great partners for engaging local communities and highlighting sensible climate solutions. It would be exciting to see their efforts replicated throughout the country,” states Salt Lake City Sustainability Program Manager Tyler Poulson. “Our community has set ambitious targets to reduce carbon pollution and promote a healthy climate. A national fee on carbon emissions is likely essential to achieving these goals and helping scale solutions elsewhere.”

Salt Lake City has a Climate Positive 2040 Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2040 (22 short years from now). A great article about the city, its climate challenges and solutions is here.

Is your city next?

Approximately 65 million people live in the top 100 largest cities in the U.S., and there are 327 million people in the U.S. What if every major city endorsed Carbon Fee and Dividend? If your city does pass a resolution, don’t forget to enter it into the Grasstops Engagement Tracker so that CCL can leverage them.

Bill says, “We hope that this type of partnership could provide a template for a potential next step for other municipalities supportive of CCL and develop more opportunities from existing relationships.”

Alex Amonette
Alex Amonette is a freelance technical and grant writer/editor, lives in cattle and sheep country, and raises vegetables and hay.