The next 10 years are crucial to addressing climate change. It must be addressed at the local level. The City pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 and made strides in moving to electric fleets, adjusting cleaning product use, and adding solar panels to projects. This is not enough.
The committee is reforming around a more aggressive agenda and better metrics for success – beyond electricity consumption. New strategies must be created to meet this new goal.
This is an exciting time. I bring relationships into the conversation that, I believe can make La Crosse a leader in using our private companies as partners in getting us to carbon-neutral before 2050. These potential partners/committee members I hope to include:
- Gundersen Health System: I've toured this facility that is a leader in moving their hospital to carbon neutral
- Western Technical College: whose have courses in sustainable practices
- Trane Technologies: their Gigaton Challenge will make their customers carbon-neutral
- Roz Schnick and her INEXCO group, a locally-lead but international think-tank of how to develop alternative energies that have an economic benefit
- Chris Schneider and his work with alternative energy vehicles, and
- Chart Industries: is investing in alternative energies such as LNG, cryo, hydrogen, and carbon capture
Small projects like the Bike Share that is about to launch in La Crosse, allowing for reduced use of vehicles, begin a new form of public engagement in alternative transportation.
There are also opportunities for education and community initiative we need to pursue. As an example, in a story of disconnect, I recently spoke to the UW-L Student Senate. They asked a question about sustainability. I answered similar to my stance here and then we moved on to a discussion of parking and reduction of cars. There was pushback on this idea around the room. When asked, who has a car here on campus, every single student raised their hand. There is a disconnect between sustainability and their own actions. Consumer education must be a part of the City’s new plan. As citizens, we must pledge to conserve water, reduce solid waste, increase our recycling, and use alternative transportation as much as possible.
The City is on the right path with adjusting the MTU as the largest user of diesel and our police force as the largest user of gasoline (creating CO2 emissions). The City has increased vehicles using propane versus gasoline. We must continue this adaptation. Propane police cars would emit 15% less CO2/mile. MTU Diesel-electric hybrid busses use 47% less fuel per mile. Just four diesel-electric hybrid busses save 19,000 gallons of fuel!
My engagement with the community provides me with insight into public-private partnerships and local expertise that can be used to create an innovative sustainability plan. I have the experience to unite government, businesses, and nonprofits in getting real results for this city. I will ensure we work with experts in our private and public sectors as well to make our community more sustainable.
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