Council Hears Update on Climate Action Plan

Council hears update on a Climate Action Plan

 The City Council received an update on work related to developing a South Burlington Climate Action Plan from Paul Conner, Director of Planning and Zoning and Chief Sustainability Officer for the City.

 Last winter, the Council took several steps to initiate development of a Climate Action Plan for the City which included a request to the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (CCRPC) for support through their annual Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP).

The purpose of the Climate Action Plan is to establish an achievable pathway for the community – including both the City as a “corporate entity” and the jurisdiction within the City’s boundaries – to meet established goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate.

Conner laid out a phased approach to preparing a Climate Action Plan.  The first phase is to create a Principal Climate Action Plan designed to meet the City’s climate goals and also a “resiliency and adaptation” plan to prepare the City for the effects of climate change over the coming decades.

Using the Climate Action Goals set by Council, the Plan will:

  • Evaluate current and projected energy and greenhouse gas emissions
  • Establish targets, or a range of targets, to be achieved within each energy sector
  • Identify and evaluate measurable “pathways” by which targets in each sector can be achieved in South Burlington.
  • Identify actions for adaptation to anticipated effects of climate change

The second phase of the project is to create Sector-Specific Climate Action Implementation Plan(s).  Recognizing the scale of this planning effort, the proposal last winter included separating the implementation plan from the Principal Plan. Where the Principal Plan will lay out a set of clear, measurable pathways to meet the City’s Climate goals, the Implementation Plan(s) will provide a deeper dive into the specific actions to be taken to meet these goals. This could include developing specific policies, incentives, regulations, and partnerships to meet the Climate goals.

Each Sector’s Implementation Plan will be tailored to the needs of the sector. The first of these – Transportation (the City’s largest energy sector) will be developed concurrently with the Principal Climate Action Plan in FY 22. Others, to include major sectors of energy production and use, as well as municipal governance itself, would follow based on funding availability.