Steamboat adopts portion of Routt County Climate Action Plan, seeking to reduce energy emissions by 82% before 2050
All seven members of Steamboat Springs City Council voted Tuesday to pass the city’s portion of the Routt County Climate Action Plan, a plan made with Hayden, Oak Creek and Routt County that outlines strategies for mitigating impacts of climate change.
“This is going to be a question of every municipality in the county coming to the table and working together,” council member Sonja Macys said.
The plan outlines six sectors that officials said are vital to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the impacts of a warming planet: energy, transportation, accountability, land use, waste and economics.
The plan sets several goals for energy, to ensure 15% of natural gas supplied to the community is renewable by 2050, that 90% of households and 85% of businesses have participated in energy efficiency programs by 2050 and retrofit 75% of buildings to be all-electric by 2050.
If the county meets its targets for energy, it is likely to see emissions from stationary energy reduced by 82% over the 2018 baseline between 2021 and 2050.
City and county officials want to increase transit ridership by 50% between 2021 and 2050, increase bicycle and walking by 15% between 2021 and 2050 and increase electric vehicle adoption so that 95% of registered vehicles in the community are electric by 2050.
If the county is successful in implementing its transportation strategies within the plan, emissions from transportation could be reduced by 98% between 2021 and 2050.
Waste generated in Routt County produced about 7% of the county’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, according to the plan. To combat this, the groups hope to increase access to recycling and composting, reduce the amount of solid waste in landfills and increase diversion.
To help preserve Routt County’s natural resources, the plan aims to promote water conservation measures and reduce energy consumed in water production, promote land management practices that increase carbon storage, and increase and support efforts to conserve and maintain natural lands and efforts to promote landscape resiliency.
City and county officials emphasized that getting the private sector involved is vital to reaching the county’s climate goals.
“We value our natural resources highly in this community,” Steamboat Springs City Manager Gary Suiter said. “We’re a destination ski resort; climate change is real.”
As for economic goals, the plan outlines broad goals to develop green markets and consume goods with lower carbon emissions.
Suiter said the plan is of utmost importance to Steamboat because air quality, clean water and health of the Yampa River consistently rank as three of the biggest priorities for residents on the community survey, which is sent to randomly-selected residents every three years and measures what is most important to the community.
While the plan does not have numerical, tangible goals for accountability, council members and commissioners agreed to revisit the plan at least once every five years, if not more frequently.
“Not everyone can do all of these things but everyone can do some of these things and together were going to have a greater impact than if we did none of these things,” Macys said.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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In keeping with national trends, the city of Steamboat Springs is experiencing critically low levels of staffing in several of its departments.