Field Notes: Mayor’s Climate Charrette (part 2)

After Mayor Leffingwell’s introduction, including the statement, "All of us on Council believe that global climate change is the issue of our time," Dr. Lynne Carter, of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, and Mr. Karl Rabago, VP of Distributed Energy Services for Austin Energy and "boss" of the Austin Climate Protection Program (ACPP) spoke at length…

{Go back to part 1 of this post.}
The group’s first major task was to define a single, big picture goal for Austin’s climate protection, by the year 2050. . . That gives 40 years to work with; safe distance and inspiring when you think back to Austin life in 1970. Collectively, we came up with:

In the year 2050 Austin has achieved net zero greenhouse gas emissions by creating an integrated, locally-sourced, green lifestyle that is affordable and accessible to all.


Like it! However, note that during the process Karl’s team made a pretty big edit. Those present voted for the mission statement that Austin would become a net "carbon sink" — meaning our community would absorb more carbon than it produces, by the year 2050. Maybe that’s unrealistic? I’m not sure (things like cell phones and ubiquitous connectivity sounded crazy 10 years ago…). Eitherway, in the spirit of collaboration no one objected to the ACPP’s rewording, and we moved onward. 

Note also that everyone present agreed "carbon" is an acceptable metaphor for broader idea of "greenhouse gasses."


For the rest of the charrette’s day and half, we broke into small groups and set to work on better-defining goals in six predetermined focus areas. Below are each of those focus areas and some of the goals voiced, via this citizen-driven process:


   Primary Goal

  • Coordinate all efforts to create a comprehensive network of engagement groups that can focus on land development in relation to climate change.


  • preserve riparian areas, critical habitat, and recharge areas
  • combine land goals with mass transit goals
  • create network of urban & regional gardens and farms, resulting in sustainable local food production and related jobs
  • develop policies, incentives, and guidelines for land conservation, restoration, and development
  • prevent sprawl via a regional design approach that emphasizes high quality of life and staying within natural resource limitations.


   Primary Goal

  • Achieve net zero carbon emissions related to electricity use in Cen Tx, by 2050. 


  • provide affordable green energy for as many households as possible
  • institute k-12 and community energy education programs
  • replace coal with non-carbon emitting resources
  • use expanded life cycle cost analysis in energy purchasing decisions
  • heavily incentivize community efforts for carbon reduction.


   Primary Goal

  • Achieve net zero carbon emissions related to transportation in Cen Tx, by 2050.


  • increase use of alternative fuels
  • increase availability of carbon neutral transportation options
  • develop "right-sized" neighborhoods to reduce vehicle miles traveled (i.e. walkable neighborhoods) 
  • heavily incentivize no/low-carbon transportation options.


   Primary Goal

  • Reduce peak demand in water use over the next 40 years at a rate that is better than the average of "dry states." (Conserve to stay below system capacity.)


  • preserve wildlife and ecosystems
  • improve efficiency of pumping and treatment systems
  • increase education by reaching deeper into the Austin and central TX communities with strong branding, communication, and implementation strategies
  • preserve and restore natural drainage infrastructures for wetland creation and carbon sequestration
  • use less treated water, via utilization of on-site capture and reuse technologies, such as rainwater, grey water, and condensate.


   Primary Goal

  • Achieve net zero carbon emissions related to waste disposal in Cen Tx by 2050, or sooner.


  • achieve Zero Waste by reducing and reusing as much was as possible; make recyling and composting easy/accessible/cost-effective/mandatory
  • leverage a Values Shift by implementing a campaign to educate companies, citizens, and consumers about the economic value of their choice
  • develop the Green Economy by prioritizing local production of renewable materials
  • expand Green Purchasing practices.


   Primary Goal

  • To make the community sustainable, even in the event of climate change shocks, such as extensive drought, heavy storms, heavy influx of climate refugees, shut-down of food supplies from various parts of the world.


  • engage disaster management community; have groups develop disaster management plans based on climate projections
  • ensure local food security to meet needs under disaster conditions
  • address climate change refugees’ needs; increase capacity local support can manage
  • encourage each community group and individual person to create their own climate preparedness plans


Your comments appreciated.


A few more notes from this great event, asap.
See Brandi Clark’s
tweets about the event.
Sign our Austin Climate Leadership
part 1 of this post.


No Comments

Post A Comment