Last week on June 1, Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed A2Zero's carbon neutrality plan, which outlines how the city can achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan has been in the works since A2Zero was formed following the city council's climate emergency declaration in November 2019.
The plan outlines seven overarching strategies and 44 actions to reduce climate pollution and enhance community resilience. Social equity is also a large focus throughout the plan to ensure the city's most vulnerable groups are a central consideration in carbon neutrality planning.
While achieving carbon neutrality in 10 years seems like a lofty goal, Missy Stults, sustainability and innovations manager for the city of Ann Arbor and leader of A2Zero, says it won't be a complete shift overnight. Instead, residents and private businesses should focus on finding ways to make their next decision an environmentally-conscious one.
For example, if a homeowner needs to purchase a new appliance, Stults recommends considering an electric option.
"This is not about gutting your entire home and putting in a lot of money," Stults says. "Next time you have to make a choice, make the right choice for our carbon-neutral path."
Stults says the city is focusing on making carbon-neutrality resources and information easier for residents to access, and preparing the marketplace to meet the needs of more environmentally-friendly options.
"We're working behind the scenes to make sure we're ready and skilling people up with job training," Stults says. "We're constantly finding ways to make this very easy, like how we can lower upfront costs."
As the team continues to implement the plan, people are encouraged to provide feedback or make suggestions that will make the carbon-neutral shift better and easier. Stults says the plan is a living document that can be changed, and those who are interested in updates can sign up for A2Zero's distribution list on its website.
"The team is just beyond excited and feels the weight of the responsibility that we have and we should have," Stults says. "I'm looking forward to unlocking the potential of this community."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo courtesy of A2Zero.