The Ann Arbor City Council postponed its vote on a proposal to amend and appropriate funds for the city’s climate and sustainability programs until the Nov. 19 council meeting. One amendment would add two full-time employees to the city’s office of sustainabilty.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, current carbon dioxide levels are at their highest point in more than 800,000 years.
The proposal comes after voters passed a mental health and public safety millage in November 2017. The council then announced funds from this millage would go toward affordable housing, pedestrian safety and climate action. Residents have previously expressed they were unaware of the millage’s use of funds because the initiatives were not spelled out on the ballot.
Ann Arbor resident Wayne Appleyard urged council at its meeting Monday to approve the proposal because of its time sensitive nature.
“It’s my sincere hope that you will grasp the urgency of working on climate change (initiatives) and unite to pass this proposed budget amendment … it needs funding now,” Appleyard said.
LSA sophomore Catherine Garton wanted City Council to act because climate change will have especially negative effects on her life and the lives of other young people.
“I am 19 years old. Climate change is going to affect me for the rest of my life,” Garton said. “What the scientists are telling us is that we are on track to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming by 2030 … the year 2030 is a real year for me … with every passing day that cities and households are not taking action on climate change, my hopes of having that future (of a house and children) are getting slimmer.”
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction collectively aim to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and more.
City Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4, was skeptical of approving the amendment because millage funding will not be received until next year.
“We are borrowing against our reserve account on the premise that we’ll pay that back from a millage that will be collected in January and thereafter,” Eaton said. “I believe that that is bad budgeting practice.”
City Councilmember Chip Smith, D-Ward 5, believed not passing the ordinance shows the city does not take climate change seriously.
“If we’re serious about this and I think that if we don’t pass this, people have a right to question whether we’re seriously committed to doing our part for climate change,” Smith said. “We have to start somewhere.”
City Councilmember Jane Lumm, I-Ward 2, had previously critiqued the amendment for budgeting concerns.
“We’re just postponing this to get it approved,” Lumm said.
City Councilmember Chuck Warpehoski, D-Ward 5, urged councilmembers to approve the proposal because the youth, including his own child, will be affected by climate change if goals are not met.
“My second grader is just going to be a sophomore in college (in 2030),” Warpehoski said. “This is nothing. These 12 years are no time. It’s just three council cycle terms. If we’re going to be serious about climate change, we’ve got to act now.”
City Council also approved the purchase of three new electric vehicles and an ordinance that would allow ducks to be kept in residential backyards as household pets.