In April, Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read issued a plan to address energy and the environment that included the creation of a sustainability committee. The new group met for the first time this week and outlined intentions to obtain a grant to review and inventory the city’s greenhouse gas emissions.
On Earth Day, the mayor of Plattsburgh issued a 58 Point Energy and Economic Resiliency strategy that called for developing a Comprehensive Master Plan to deal with environmental challenges. That same week the Common Council approved a resolution adopting the New York state Climate Smart Communities pledge. To move the initiatives forward the council in June appointed a seven-member Sustainability Task Force to examine city operations and set goals to reduce energy use.
During its organizational meeting this week the members introduced themselves. Chair Ward One Democrat Rachelle Armstrong explained the goal is to become a carbon-neutral community. “The urgency of the climate crisis is what is motivating the establishment of the task force. We’re intent on reducing carbon emissions in city operations. I’ve been particularly concerned that the latest scientific reading of the window during which we have to really meet the challenge of climate change is narrowing all the time. And the most pessimistic predictions are that we have 10-15 years, if that. So immediate action is necessary and that’s why we’re here.”
This first meeting focused on the group’s formal organization and mission. The task force must develop a strategy and work plan for establishing a current baseline for the city’s emissions and then identify reduction targets. To meet that goal Community Development Office Project Coordinator Ethan Vinson explained the city is applying for a grant. “We are looking to apply for a grant for a government operations greenhouse gas inventory as well as a government operations climate action plan. And then at the same time conduct a fleet inventory and develop a fleet efficiency policy. So we get this greenhouse gas inventory for the city it’s determined what do we need to do to reduce this? And we can make that action plan and then we have more action items that we as a task force can accomplish or delegate. That’s really the importance it’s just starting off and having that baseline of information for our government and then maybe in the future the community but right now we’re going to focus on the government.”
Some of the work will be done under the guidelines of the state Climate Smart Communities pledge and the mayor’s plan. Armstrong says the overall goal is to become a certified community. “One of our major goals will be to achieve Climate Smart Community certification. And because of what we’re already done and because of what seems easy to do there is every possibility that we will achieve certification in a short period of time. Our goal will be to achieve certification by January 5, 2020. That’s the next cutoff for certification.”
The Sustainability Task Force will next meet on August 21st.