The city of Durango asked residents for feedback about its sustainability goals, and early survey respondents want the city to act faster and be bolder with its goals to give up fossil fuels.
The survey, being conducted on the Virtual City Hall webpage until July 31, will help inform the city as it updates its sustainability plan. The city set two major goals in 2019: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase its renewable electricity supply. It is now asking residents to weigh in on the plan, and so far, residents have said the city’s goals don’t go far enough.
“The survey is just an opportunity for the community to have input on their priorities,” said Imogen Ainsworth, Durango sustainability coordinator. “This initial survey is just on high-level goals, and there will be more engagement further down the line with regard to specific action.”
In 2019, City Council committed to steering the community’s energy usage to more renewable sources.
Durango plans to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with a 30% reduction by 2030, compared with the city’s emissions in 2016. It also plans to have a 100% renewable electricity supply by 2050, with a 50% supply by 2030.
Durango’s goals are less ambitious than Colorado goals. Colorado aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50%, compared with 2005 levels, by 2030. By 2050, it aims for a 90% reduction. And the state plans to use 100% renewable energy, not just electricity, by 2040, according to the Colorado Energy Office website.
The term “energy” includes transportation and heating systems that are not captured in the city’s goal. Durango focused on “electricity” to encourage a transition from fossil fuels to all electricity, such as electric cars or solar-powered climate control in buildings versus gas cars or coal furnaces.
Of the 113 initial responses, only 29 are visible to the public. Most of those respondents, more than 60%, said the city’s goals were not stringent enough. Several people said the goals can and should be reached sooner.
“Why wouldn’t we at least match Colorado’s targets, if not be even more ambitious?” said one respondent, who did not share their name.
The majority, more than 75%, said they were “very concerned” about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, preparing for climate change impacts and reducing Durango’s reliance on fossil fuels.
“Climate change is, in 2020, an all-hands-on-deck emergency for the viability of our economy and civil society,” said Sarah Kelly, a Durango resident, in her response.