The city of Dallas wants to know how climate change is affecting residents and how they think it should be solved. Courtesy of Storyblock.
April 30, 2019
Want to tell the city of Dallas how it should deal with climate change?
Dallas residents are invited to give their input over the next few weeks.
The city of Dallas’ Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability is hosting six public meetings, which kicked off last night and continue through May 9. In addition, residents can fill out an online survey until May 23.
The feedback is being sought in preparation for the development of Dallas’ Climate Action Plan, which was included in the city budget last fall.
In January, the Dallas City Council approved the hiring of consulting firm AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance) to develop the plan. AECOM helped Mexico City develop its climate action and adaption plan. The firm also provided greenhouse gas planning services to the city of Los Angeles.
The city of Dallas could be the second city in Texas to develop a climate action plan, following Austin which adopted a response in 2015. San Antonio is also working on a strategy.
Supporters celebrate the inclusion of a Dallas Climate Action Plan development in the city budget last September.Courtesy of Rita Beving.
LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION
Many people believe cities have to step up to address climate change due to the lack of action on the federal and state levels. Mayor Mike Rawlings signed the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, along with more than 300 mayors, after President Trump’s announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017.
Over the last three decades, the city of Dallas has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent. However, the city’s output represents only about two percent of the region’s emissions, according to Susan Alvarez, assistant director for office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability.
In order to have a significant impact on climate change, Alvarez says both residents and the business community have to be engaged, including those who are being affected the most.
“The national climate assessment shows that climate change disproportionally affects communities of color, the elderly, children and those economically challenged,” said Alvarez. “We wanted to know what their concerns are and what their priorities are.”
James McGuire, director for office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability, admits they’re in new territory and want the community’s help in building the plan.
“Part of the rationale is that we don’t want to be dictating outcomes. We want to do things that are effective and equitable - one of our charges by City Council. We don’t want tell the community - here are the things we want you to do. That’s what causes discord,” he said. “We want those communities to tell us what they want in a climate action plan and then we’ll take that and come up with a plan that is effective and equitable.”
McGuire says the plan will address both reducing emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change that are already happening, such as flooding, drought, the urban heat island effect and the rise in extreme heat days.
“We’ve been told to expect 40-60 more extreme heat days. That’s basically two more months of summer,” said McGuire. “If you have a home that is not well insulated, you may be spending 30 to 60 percent of your income on your energy bills.”
McGuire said the two largest ways which individuals contribute to climate change is via their transportation and energy usage.
McGuire speculates that solutions to climate change could include encouraging and/or helping people switch to renewables and cleaner transportation, along with increasing green space and the city’s tree canopy.
So far, they’ve received feedback from hundreds of residents. The first public meeting on Monday night drew around 25 people, which included city staffers and members of the plan's stakeholder group. In addition, they’ve received more than 400 responses to the online survey.
“We had some good conversations at the first meeting,” said Alvarez. “We heard a lot of different ideas and that was really healthy. A lot of people stayed after and talked to each other.”
Dallas Climate Action Plan Survey
About: The city of Dallas’ Office of Environmental Quality and Sustainability is hosting six public meetings, which kicked off last night and continue through May 9. In addition, residents can fill out an online survey until May 23.
Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Bachman Rec Center, 2750 Bachman Dr.
Thursday, May 2, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Martin Weiss Rec Center, 1111 Martindell Ave.
Monday, May 6, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. : Churchill Rec Center, 6906 Churchill Way
Tuesday, May 7, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Audelia Road Library, 10045 Audelia Rd.
Thursday, May 9, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.: Eastfield College, Pleasant Grove, 802 S. Buckner Blvd.
Online Survey - You have until May 23 to submit.