Letter: Setting an example on climate change
January 30, 2016
Aspen is regarded around the world for its natural beauty, cultural activities and access to the outdoors. Thanks to Mayor Steve Skadron's attendance at the United Nations climate-change conference in Paris last month, the city of Aspen is now also known for our work addressing climate change.
Aspen has been resolute in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions locally, but climate change is a global issue. It is not enough for Aspen to implement solutions — we must share these successes with the world to help other communities transition. The Community Office for Resource Efficiency expresses our appreciation to Skadron for doing exactly that.
The mayor's attendance at the conference was significant not only for elevating Aspen as a leader on climate change but for the platform the conference created, allowing for a unique information exchange among leaders. While in Paris, the mayor was invited to speak and to meet with numerous leaders to discuss Aspen's climate programs, challenges and strategies for success. As a result, Aspen will benefit, and so will other locations that were influenced by this city's leadership.
Since Aspen is now the third city in the U.S. powered by 100 percent renewable electricity, Skadron was invited by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives to discuss how they achieved that goal. Representatives from Paris, and other international cities, were looking to Aspen for answers — a city a fraction of their size. Skadron shared information about the city's municipal utility and Renewable Energy Mitigation Program, a fee on new buildings designed to deter excess energy use. In addition, Skadron learned how cities are reducing single-passenger transit.
Arguably, the most notable outcome of the mayor's attendance isn't tied to Aspen, or even Paris, but Beijing. The mayor of Beijing invited Skadron to meet to discuss strategies for greening the Winter Olympics, which Beijing will host in 2022.
Skadron is a member of the "Compact of Mayors," launched by the U.N., which works to accelerate more ambitious and collaborative climate action in cities around the world. As a result, Skadron has been inspired to form a "Compact of Colorado Mayors," inviting mayors across Colorado to collaborate on climate change and advance clean energy in our state. We applaud him for this effort and support him in doing so.
In the end, the climate conference was successful in that 188 countries committed, for the first time, to report on their greenhouse-gas emissions and create plans to steadily and verifiably reduce those emissions.
This historic agreement certainly wouldn't have happened without the leadership of the heads of state and climate negotiators at the conference. But you don't need to be a mayor, world leader or climate expert to make a difference. Anyone in the Roaring Fork Valley can reduce their carbon pollution through saving energy at home or at your business, composting, taking the bus or writing to your representative, and there are numerous local programs designed to help you do just that. Learn how: Visit http://www.aspencore.org.