By Brenda Peña, MPA
(Feb. 27, 2018) -- The first San Antonio Climate Ready Town Hall initiative took place this month inside the UTSA Downtown Campus. Numerous individuals participated in this event with hopeful enthusiasm regarding future climate change in San Antonio. The town hall represented passionate community members seeking and providing feedback in response to stated climate control initiatives.
The Downtown Campus provided the ideal backdrop for this important event. Roger Enriquez, Director of the Policy Studies Center, which is housed under the College of Public Policy, added, "now that the Downtown Campus is reasserting itself as an integral part of the urban transformation of San Antonio, we were eager to host this event."
The San Antonio Climate Ready initiative was created in collaboration with the City of San Antonio Office of Sustainability, CPS Energy and the UTSA Policy Studies Center. With the election of Mayor Ron Nirenberg, the city council was able to pass the initiative with the intention of actively engaging and involving the San Antonio community in the planning process. This initiative was created in an effort to support the goals of the Paris Climate Accord.
So what is a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan? This plan is created to identify long-term climate-related impacts with a goal of helping develop strategies that mitigate emissions and help adapt communities and institutions towards current and future climate-related impacts. This initiative is more than just to eliminate greenhouse gases, but an effort to transform our community with clean energy and better prepare for the future.
“A damaged climate can impact the priorities that matter to all of us,” says Chief Sustainability Officer of the City of San Antonio, Douglas Melnik. “Military and security, economic competitiveness, public health, infrastructure and world heritage sites can all be affected.”
The San Antonio Climate Ready Town Hall gave a platform to those wanting to share their concern and recommendations moving forward. This was performed through group discussions and open conversation. During this time citizens shared their hopes and ideas for next steps and vision for the San Antonio Climate Ready initiative.
“We identified three priorities at our table: education within the community, visibility of current initiatives, such as San Antonio Climate Ready events, and transportation choices of the future.” says citizen Jesse Chadwick. “We also want to identify funding and policy as a priority. By this, we mean political will and the broader participation of the community in an effort to reduce the usage of fossil fuels.”
Next steps regarding the San Antonio Climate Ready Action and Adaptation Plan are to continue establishing committees within the community and initiate planning. More town halls and community conversations are scheduled to continue to order to help further finalize the San Antonio Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. For more information about the San Antonio Climate Ready initiative and future town hall dates please visit their website at: http://saclimateready.org/ Want a recap of the first San Antonio Climate Ready Town Hall? Visit the UTSA Policy Studies Center Facebook for footage and photos of the event.