By Mike Garfield
On May 20, the Ann Arbor City Council voted to approve the City’s 2020-21 budget with the fully proposed $880,000 in new funding for climate action.
Monday’s vote was the culmination of twelve months of hard work by Ecology Center supporters, dozens of organizations, and hundreds of activists working under the umbrella of the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership. Thank you for all your calls and emails to City Council members – it truly made a difference!
The debate over climate action actually dates back even more than one year. Back in December 2012, the City of Ann Arbor adopted an ambitious climate plan, with aggressive goals and a long list of important implementation steps. At the time, it was one of the first municipal-level climate action plans in the country. Today, it’s still one of the most ambitious plans in a community with an investor-owned utility.
But in the years since the climate plan’s adoption, the City had sputtered to make good on its talk, because it hadn't put adequate resources into the climate plan. Two years ago, Mayor Christopher Taylor and the City Council decided that Washtenaw County’s new public safety rebate could be a major funding mechanism for climate action, as well as for affordable housing and pedestrian safety, but that strategy was controversial from the outset, and its preservation was called into question when a new majority took control of City Council last year.
Since then, we’ve been making our case to City Council that, in the 21st Century, climate action has to be a top priority of local government. Even if the Trump Administration is going to back away from the Paris climate accord and the country’s federal climate commitments, local and state governments need to take action before it’s too late. On May 20, the City of Ann Arbor declared – with its budget – that “we are still in.”