Since Ann Arbor set an ambitious goal last November to become carbon neutral by 2030, A2Zero, a committee formed by the city and its community partners, has taken action to research and rally the community to form a robust climate action plan.
The third step of A2Zero's planning process is now underway, with a survey now open to the public to answer questions about what the community will need in order to achieve carbon neutrality.
In recent months, A2Zero has conducted two public surveys and more than 60 public events to engage community members, especially youth. These events ranged from traditional town halls to backpack flyers sent home with elementary students.
Missy Stults, sustainability and innovations manager for the city of Ann Arbor and leader of A2Zero, notes the current survey was originally intended to identify steps community members would be willing to take to reach carbon neutrality. But further research showed choice wasn't an option, and all possibilities need to be carried out.
"We've acknowledged to be failure positive and adapt as needed," Stults says. "We know the 'what': all possible solutions. And now we focus on the 'how' and how we're going to support residents, commuters, and the business community."
The six general strategies A2Zero will recommend are: powering the city's electric grid with 100% renewable energy, ending the use of gas or diesel, investing in energy efficiencies, reducing vehicle miles traveled by 50%, enhancing the community's recycling and composting system, and improving the resilience of citizens and community infrastructure.
Stults says A2Zero is also taking a close look at how its action plan can address equity in Ann Arbor so underrepresented groups also benefit from the climate action plan.
Since none of the six strategies are up for debate in order to reach carbon neutrality, A2Zero's survey inquires about what incentives people may need in order to implement them. Those incentives could include rebates, tax incentives, or provided information.
The survey closes Wednesday, March 11, and more formalized strategies will be revealed later this month when A2Zero presents its action plan to City Council on March 30, Stults says.
"This process doesn't end here," Stults says. "We'll be continuing engagement around this, and we need everyone in this community to be part of implementation. The easiest thing was passing the resolution to become carbon neutral, the second easiest was the plan, and now is when all the real work starts."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of A2Zero.