Aspen’s electeds to meet in Utah next week
A majority of the Aspen City Council will travel to Park City, Utah, next week to network and build relationships with other mountain communities to act against climate change.
Because council members Ann Mullins and Skippy Mesirow and Mayor Torre will be attending the conference together, it required the City Clerk’s Office to publicly notice their meeting Oct. 2-4 because three of five elected officials will be gathering and it constitutes a quorum.
While it’s expected that officials representing communities attending the Mountain Town 2030 Summit will be asked to make a commitment on policies related to climate change, Torre said he and his colleagues won’t be.
They will return to Aspen to discuss any possible commitments with the rest of their elected body.
Chris Menges, the city’s sustainability programs administrator who has worked on Aspen’s Climate Action Plan, will join the elected officials at the summit.
Airfare, lodging and conference registration for Mesirow and Torre totals $2,050, and comes out of the City Council’s budget and the Climate Action Office.
Because of the last-minute decision for Mullins to go, she is paying her own way. She said she plans to drive and stay with friends in the area.
Mullins said she’s excited to hear the speakers who are lined up for the summit.
“I believe it’s important that as many people as possible hear this,” she said.
Torre said he thinks it’s appropriate for the city to pay for Mullins’ registration for the conference, which is about $319.
In preparation for the trip, Ashley Perl, the city’s climate action manager, presented a few suggestions for council members to consider while at the summit.
Perl said Andy Beerman, mayor of Park City, will be pushing mountain communities to commit to being net zero by 2030.
Perl suggested to council that that it could consider an interim goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% below 2004 levels by 2030.
The city’s Climate Action Plan calls for reducing emissions by 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.
“We analyzed what it takes for us to reach a 50% reduction by 2030,” Perl said. “I cannot sit here and say what it looks like to be net zero by 2030.”
She also suggested that council could address in the future a specific program like composting, electric transportation or energy use in buildings.
Perl said what the mountain communities attending the summit could benefit from is learning about Aspen’s leadership and experience in climate change policies.
“If City Council wants to promote the theme of leadership and facilitation, this would most likely not take the form of a commitment or a formal goal but would rather be a narrative that Aspen can share with other towns attending the summit,” Perl wrote in a memo to council. “By encouraging others to reach out and lean into regional partners, Aspen can set a new norm for how local governments can work together to achieve more than working on their own.”
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The Roaring Fork Valley has, by-and-large, avoided the mountain pine beetle and spruce beetle infestations that have decimated parts of the state. However, a 2019 aerial survey showed the Roaring Fork watershed has an outbreak of Douglas-fir and western balsam beetles.