Locals ‘deep dive’ into climate change

By Jeremy Morrison, Inweekly

The city of Pensacola’s recent climate change report is due for a deep a dive, as officials prepare to consider potentially acting on the report’s findings.

Members of the city’s Environmental Advisory Board committed Jan. 3 to dig into the report so that they could forward their recommendations on to the Pensacola City Council. The report — Climate Action: A Blueprint for Addressing Climate Change at the Municipal Level — was prepared by the city’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force, and examines how Pensacola can best prepare for the effects of climate change.

“There’s an awful lot of meat in this report,” said Neil Richards, chairman of the EAB, suggesting that the report be broken into digestible bits and fed to council in smaller bites.

Other EAB members suggested that special meetings be called to focus on the climate change report. Perhaps each section of the report deserved its own meeting?

“I’ve read it cover to cover twice. I think most of us have. I think we oughta just bite the bullet and take it own.”

Robert Bennett

“I think we need to get more serious,” contended EAB member Robert Bennett, suggesting the group devour the document in one, concentrated sitting. “I’ve read it cover to cover twice. I think most of us have. I think we oughta just bite the bullet and take it own.”

Chairman Richards agreed, scheduling a deep dive for the EAB’s February meeting: “Ok, next meeting, that’ll be the only item on the agenda.”

The climate change report the board will be reviewing addresses matters such as planning for energy efficiency and resilience in the face of forecasted climate changes that include sea level rise, record-breaking heat indexes, heavier rain and increased flooding, decreasing availability of freshwater as well as storm surges made worse by stronger hurricanes.

The local task force outlined several areas of focus when assessing how Pensacola should prepare for the impacts of climate change: greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, transportation issues, the built environment, emergency planning, local utilities, public health, municipal outreach and economic development.

Among the report’s recommendations the EAB will be selecting from: incorporating a climate mitigation element into the comprehensive plan, inventorying the city’s green house gas emissions, conduct a climate change vulnerability study for the city, reestablish the city’s Office of Sustainability, pursue grant opportunities to develop climate adaptation programming.