The City of Albuquerque wants to be more green and they are asking citizens to help figure out how to do it.
This isn’t the first time the city moved forward on a climate plan, but it may be the first to actually get results. According to City Councilor Isaac Benton, way back in 2008 under Mayor Marty Chavez the City of Albuquerque assembled a task force to develop a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 80 percent by the year 2050. The result was the Climate Action Plan (CAP), which suggests policy goals in the areas of carbon offsets, local food and agriculture, carbon-neutral buildings, recycling, renewable energy, social change, livable neighborhoods, and transportation. Due to a change in administration and council, that plan was never adopted or implemented, Benton wrote online.
But in 2019, Councilor Benton joined with Councilors Diane Gibson and Pat Davis* to pass a new resolution supported by 350 New Mexico and others declaring a climate emergency in Albuquerque and directing the administration to update the defunct 2008 plan. According to Benton, the resolution also emphasizes the need for a regional just transition and climate emergency mobilization effort in full partnership with residents of Albuquerque, community organizations, allies, Tribal nations, and traditional agricultural communities, keeping the concerns of vulnerable communities central to mobilization efforts. The law passed with all 6 Democrats in support and all 3 Republicans excused.
Over the past year, Mayor Keller’s administration began working on the framework for the new Climate Action Plan. A task force of community members, facilitated by New Mexico First, helped identify local data and opportunities in all parts of city operations, including waste streams and energy use.
In the meantime, city leaders have already been busy making the city more green. In 2017, Councilors Davis and Benton worked with US Senator Martin Heinrich to bring $25 million in federal solar bonds to retrofit dozens of city buildings to solar. Mayor Keller‘s administration began installing those systems when they took office.
Keller also began transitioning the city’s vehicle fled to electric vehicles and recently rolled out the first all-electric bus (thanks to more federal money secured with Sen. Heinrich’s help). Keller also secured a new deal with PNM and the Jicarilla Apache Nation to create a new solar farm on the nation which will provide more of the city’s energy use from renewables. In 2018, the mayor signed a bill (sponsored by Councilors Davis, Benton, Borrego & Gibson) banning plastic bags in the city. It was put on pause during the pandemic but the city says the ban will be back when health orders are lifted.
Now the public gets to weigh in on the Climate Action Plan before the Mayor sends it to the City Council for final approval. A public survey is available online until February 26th. It is available in English and Spanish.
*Pat Davis is an Albuquerque City Councilor and also serves as the publisher of The Paper.