Reno joined the ranks of other cities and states taking steps to address the climate crisis when the City Council adopted a resolution last month to lower carbon emissions and prepare the community for extreme weather.
The Sustainability & Climate Action Plan outlines a broad vision for climate adaptation, including an 80 percent reduction of the city’s emissions by 2050, greater urban density and plans to encourage residents to use public transportation and electric vehicles.
A variety of local groups are supportive of the effort, including the Sierra Club and the Chamber of Commerce, both of which were involved in drafting the initiative.
John Scire, professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, says the city’s goals are aggressive but achievable, because the state offers abundant renewable resources like geothermal and solar power.
“For us there’s an economic reason to go into sustainable production, sustainable living and to make the electricity that goes in the electric cars and everything else come from clean energy,” he said.
Scire also noted Nevada currently has to import the fossil fuels it uses to generate power.
Reno’s plan echoes recent sustainability goals set by the state Legislature, which will raise Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030.
The Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance is also in favor of Reno’s plan, especially its emphasis on greater density in urban development, walkable neighborhoods and improvements to bicycle infrastructure.
But TMBA’s chair, John McCann, believes the plan would be stronger if it incentivized more people to ride bikes. He suggests simple changes like allowing businesses to replace some of their parking requirements with space for people to lock up their bikes.
“It would be cool if we could allow businesses to replace some of that mandatory car parking with bike parking,” he said. “That would just encourage people to show up on their bike instead of in a car.”
But according to Patrick Donnelly of the Center for Biological Diversity, those efforts alone won’t be enough to avoid severe consequences if the federal government doesn’t address the root causes of climate change. “We need broad systemic change,” he said. “This is no substitute for stopping fracking.”
The next phase of the Sustainability & Climate Action Plan will be to make an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from government activities and the community at large.