In my previous post I pointed out that Phoenix, Arizona could not be found among the list of U.S. cities that have joined climate protection initiatives for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In wandering through the Sierra Club’s Cool Cities website I found an explanation for the absence of Phoenix in a letter written by Karen O’Regan, Environmental Programs Manager for the City of Phoenix, which was posted last spring. Here is a portion of what she wrote:
After careful consideration, we have decided not to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayor’s Climate Change Protection Agreement. The City of Phoenix is actively involved in wide range of programs and projects that address climate change. However, we believe that the inventory and tracking requirements of the Agreement will require extensive staff time and significant new funding for specialized consultant assistance. We feel that our limited public resources are better spent on implementing the programs that will directly impact climate change.
We are also concerned that the Mayor’s Agreement states that participating cities will strive to meet or exceed the Kyoto Protocol targets reducing emissions to seven percent below the 1990 levels by 2012. The cities that have had the greatest success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions are those who have municipal-owned electric utilities. Those cities are able to shift power production from coal to wind, solar and hydro-power or to implement customer incentive programs, to achieve significant emission reductions. Although the City of Phoenix is aggressively implementing a wide range of energy conservation and sustainability programs, the potential for emission reductions is much lower because we do not generate or sell power. The bulk of the emissions in the valley are related to vehicle miles traveled and development. Consequently, our focus is on smart growth policies, transportation improvements such as light rail and expanded bus service, energy conservation programs and building codes, and other sustainable practices including recycling and water conservation. Many of these activities are very difficult to quantify with respect to emission reductions.