City Council to hear potential ‘Climate Emergency’ resolution

Samantha Ye

 

Residents wait in line to speak at City Council public comment
Residents wait in line to speak to Fort Collins City Council during the public comment portion. Of the 35 residents who spoke, around 20 of them urged Council to adopt a Climate Emergency Resolution. (Samantha Ye | Collegian)

Fort Collins City Council will look at declaring a climate emergency due to the urging of residents. 

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At the Tuesday meeting, around 20 residents asked the Council to adopt a “Climate Emergency Resolution,” declaring the current climate situation an imminent threat. 

Many of the speakers were affiliated with the Fort Collins Sustainability Group and Extinction Rebellion Fort Collins.

“We believe that Fort Collins, together with other cities that have been leaders in addressing the climate crisis, has a special responsibility to declare a climate emergency,” said Elizabeth Hudetz, a member of the FCSG steering committee. “Those who have been talking the talk and walking the walk for decades now need to issue a powerful call to others, including our federal government, to do their part.”

As a result of citizen comment, Councilmember Julie Pignataro directed City staff to draft a resolution to declare a climate emergency, potentially using a draft provided by the FCSG and XRFC as a starting point. 

We can’t solve the climate crisis by ourselves.” -Elizabeth Hudetz, member of the Fort Collins Sustainability Group steering committee

There is no set date for when that resolution might be introduced. 

Less than a week ago, New York City became the largest U.S. city to declare a climate emergency, following 17 other U.S. cities and four countries, according to the Huffington Post. The declarations have been largely symbolic.

Even so, residents who spoke emphasized the importance of sending a message of urgency to other governing bodies who are not as sustainability-driven as Fort Collins.  

“We can’t solve the climate crisis by ourselves,” Hudetz said.

In a draft CER written by the FCSG and XRFC, the groups acknowledge the direct action and progress of the City’s Climate Action Plan — which Councilmember Kristin Stephens said millions of dollars has been poured into — but asks the City to push the carbon neutrality goal from 2050 to 2029.

It also asks the City to expand the CAP Community Advisory Committee “to include representation from as many indigenous communities displaced from northern Colorado as possible.” 

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Some of the text mirrors the recommendations provided by The Climate Mobilization, an environmental advocacy group working on stimulating political action against climate change.

Pignataro said she doesn’t foresee the final resolution establishing any new policy.

Councilmembers Ross Cunniff, Susan Gutowsky and Emily Gorgol also voiced support for a CER, with Gorgol also specifying the need to include indigenous voices in the CAP. 

Gutowsky said she saw the CER as an imperative for the Council to recognize and support the concerns of the community. 

“I think what we heard tonight reflects is more than just a few passionate people,” Gutowsky said. “I think they were reflecting what we hear locally, what we hear nationally, what we hear internationally; it’s a global concern.”

Councilmember Ken Summers and Mayor Wade Troxell said they opposed the idea of declaring a climate emergency when they already have the CAP.

“I have no appetite to take a community-initiated, special interest group resolution and use that as a Council policy,” Summers said. 

He contested the use of the word “emergency,” calling such statements “extreme,” and pointed to the record late snowfalls in Colorado.

Cunniff disagreed and said the CAP itself was based on the understanding that climate change is an emergency. 

“One of the components of our Climate Action Plan is to provide leadership and pressure to other city partners or state legislators or federal legislators to treat it with the same level of urgency with which we are treating it,” Cunniff said.

Troxell, however, said not doing “grandstanding” and “shouting up” is what has thus far garnered community support for the City’s sustainability leadership.

“One of the things that differentiates Fort Collins is the deliberate action to make a difference, and I would rather be on that side of it than to follow a particular fad-of-the-day, which I believe this one is,” Troxell said. 

Pignataro, who offered to help draft the resolution, said she saw it a little differently. 

“(I) do not feel like grandstanding is what we’re going for here,” Pignataro said. “It’s another layer and … another tool that we can use to show our values as a community.”

More at Council

Connexion approved to enter video purchasing agreements: Council approved ordinances that will allow the municipal broadband Connexion to purchase and deliver video content rights. Connexion will be authorized to provide TV channels like Fox News or Nickelodeon. Having content services will help keep Connexion competitive with other services, councilmembers said. 

Preschool development at Buckingham Horse approved: Council denied an appeal to halt the development of a controversial Sunshine House daycare in the Buckingham Horse neighborhood. The development is approved to go up as planned. 

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.