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Creating a Community Climate Action Plan

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SEEDS, which analyzed greenhouse gas emissions in Grand Traverse County, is asking residents to take an online survey about their energy use.

There is widespread consensus that real action must be taken now to decrease the impact we are having on our environment and combat climate change. To help guide the actions our community takes, SEEDS is launching a Climate Action Planning Survey.

“If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” NASA’s James Hansen wrote recently, “paleo-climate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 parts per million (ppm) to at most 350 ppm.”

It is daunting to know what actions to take because issues about climate change and greenhouse gases abound.

Do we shift as quickly as possible to wind or solar power? Cut our energy usage by buying efficient appliances, turning things off, or no longer driving by ourselves? Then there’s urban sprawl, recycling, eating less commercial meat… the list goes on and on!

As a part of our work with the Michigan Public Service Commission, Grand Traverse County and Traverse City, SEEDS is creating a regional Climate Action Plan.

But, to make an informed plan that the community supports, we need to know what steps we and our neighbors really are ready and willing to take. So, we’ve launched a Climate Action Planning survey.

SEEDS got involved in 2007 when a group of citizens petitioned the city to sign the US Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. The agreement advances the Kyoto Protocol’s goal of cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of cities from 1990 levels by seven percent before 2012. Traverse City Mayor Linda Smyka signed the agreement in 2007, with significant community support. To date 1,042 mayors have signed similar agreements.

Singing the agreement requires cities to measure their current greenhouse gas emissions, set a reduction target, create an action plan, and monitor the results. We completed those analyses in 2008 for Grand Traverse County, the City of Traverse City, and the wider Grand Traverse County community. The community report shows the sector with the greatest energy use and highest greenhouse gas emissions-transportation-and also the energy source with the greatest amount of greenhouse gas emissions-electricity.

This work is significant because it gives us a clear baseline to work from so we can truly know if the actions people and non-profits are taking do lead to a reduction in our carbon footprint.

That said, the baseline assessment is just a report. If the knowledge just stays on the shelf, it will not achieve its real purpose-inspiring action and improvements.

So, SEEDS now wants to find out more from the people who initiated this process-the community. In order to help our municipalities and other partner organizations take the most effective steps toward cutting our carbon emissions, we need to hear from the people who live and work here.

That is why we are conducting the Climate Action Planning Survey. It will directly shape the comprehensive Community Climate Action Plan. The survey is short, covers a wide variety of actions that can be taken to significantly reduce carbon emissions, and even works as an educational tool.

Each question includes quantified savings for typical actions.

Please take a few minutes and take the survey! Help shape the future of our community.

For those who want to weigh in further, the survey is accompanied by a set of additional action-specific surveys targeted around specific sectors like water and wastewater, agriculture and forestry, transportation, and electrical generation & transmission. Here are links to those additional surveys. We hope you’ll fill out as many as make sense for you!

Residential/Commercial/Industrial Actions

Leverage Existing Tax Incentives and Rebates to Encourage Energy Efficiency

Encourage realtors to educate customers on benefits of energy performance

Promote Commercial Facility Energy Efficiency Improvements

Promote Energy Conservation Landscaping and Heat Island Reduction

Create a Municipal Energy Office and Officer

Transportation & Land Use Actions

Educate the Community on Low Carbon Transportation Options

Promote Facilitate and Incentivize Active Transportation

Implement Best Workplaces for Commuters program at Municipalities, School Districts, and Hospital as a model

Waste & Wastewater Actions

Promote Water Conservation Measures

Promote Recycling & Waste Reduction

Energy Generation, Distribution, and Transmission Actions


Promote Community Support of Renewable Energy

Establish Local Renewable Energy Certificates

Agriculture & Forestry Actions

Provide Education on the Impacts of Food Consumer Choices


Your Proposed Actions

Mike Powers is a SEEDS staff member; please direct questions to him at powers@ecoseeds.org.

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