SAN ANTONIO (KTSA NEWS) – The San Antonio City Council Thursday got a look at the proposed Climate Action and Adaptation Plan which outlines several steps toward reaching a coal of carbon neutrality by 2050. It addresses transportation and drastically reducing gas emissions.
“We are at a critical point in our history and the time for acting is now and I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
He says the plan is needed to improve public health and help the city deal with the affects of climate change.
“These are not scare tactics. This isn’t a stats game,” he told his colleagues after the presentation of the plan. Nirenberg says climate change is a reality “and San Antonians cannot afford for us to do nothing.”
The city council will have public meetings and hearings before voting on the plan in October, but Councilman John Courage says more time is needed to address several questions, including how the various aspects of the plan will be implemented.
“What mechanism will be employed to monitor and track the successful implementation of all of our efforts?” Courage asked.
He also wants to know what it’s going to cost.
“What may be the cost to the city of San Antonio, but more importantly, what may be the potential cost to the individual economies of the citizens of San Antonio?” Courage questioned.
He noted that in order to get the support of the community, these and several other questions need to be answered. Courage says he’s willing to wait six months or a year to vote on a plan that will affect area residents for the next 30 years.
Councilman Clayton Perry says he can’t understand how the document can estimate the cost of “doing nothing,” while leaving out the price tag for implementation of the plan.
“That’s a blank check that we’re giving to the taxpayers, saying ‘trust me, here sign this, we’re going to approve this and we’re going to march on,'” said Perry.
Douglas Melnick, the city’s Chief Sustainability Officer, told the council the document is a framework and they didn’t include the cost because they don’t know what technology will be available in the future to help implement the plan.
Business owners were at the meeting, but did not speak out. There have been numerous meetings with the business community since many balked at the initial draft.
The President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce later sent out a statement after Thursday’s council meeting.
“Unfortunately, our Vice President of Public Policy and I were not able to attend this morning’s City Council presentation on the Climate Action and Adaptation plan as a result of illness. However, our Assistant Vice President of Public Policy was in attendance, and his high-level feedback was that there have indeed been changes made to the document in keeping with the myriad concerns voiced by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and a multitude of our business members both large and small,” said chamber president Richard Perez. ” We believe this is a very positive step forward.”
Now that the document is “officially” out, we will review the plan thoroughly, run it though our standard Committee review process, and ultimately through our Chamber’s Executive Committee and our Board of Directors to determine when and if we will take a formal position.