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White House advisor praises local efforts to address climate change

MT
Carolyn Murray
/
KPCW
White House Advisor Gina McCarthy addresses Mountain Town 2030 conference at OP Rockwell in Park City

Park City Mayor Andy Beerman introduced the White House Advisor Gina McCarthy in this first MT 2030 meeting after 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions. Park City-inspired Mountain Town 2030 has a mission to bring like communities together to share strategies and reach net-zero goals by the year 2030.

McCarthy believes addressing climate change and seeking net-zero emissions is about the economy, social issues, and the planet's future. She claimed people want the government to lead them out of the pandemic through the Biden administration infrastructure plan. She said addressing climate change will boost the economy and address social inequality.

"It's what you need to do to keep your families safe. It's what you need to do to rebuild your community. This is about reforms that are going to create millions of good-paying union jobs. It's finally going to let this country tackle the racial injustice and the economic inequality literally threatening our government right now."

Jackson, Wyoming Assistant Public Works Director Johnny Ziem believes anyone with children is vested in making sure the climate is sustainable. He said communities must work together and share innovation and initiatives. Ziem gave an example of the plastic bag ban in Jackson indicating it wouldn't have happened otherwise. Jackson formed the Energy Conservation Group, which has grown in the past ten years and now offers incentives for residents.

"We actually set aside special purpose excise tax funds of about three and a half million dollars for efficiency projects. It's grown into getting 0% loans for people to do upgrades to their homes and make their homes more efficient."

Eagle, Colorado Mayor Scott Turnipseed said they've had several threatening wildfires which could have ended with extensive power outages and property devastation. He said solar power feeding their electrical grid is critical to reaching self-sustaining measures for his town of 7,000 people.

"You know if we could be 100% sustainable and resilient, it's just going to make for a better community. I know you guys have had some wildfires here. We've had three wildfires in the last three years around Eagle. And all were very close to knocking out with power for extended periods of time. This wouldn't be like a day outage. This would be weeks providing for ourselves."

MT 2030 has a mission to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 to control global warming by 1.5 degrees. The organization plans to achieve this goal by bringing together diverse stakeholders and collaborating through community connections throughout the mountain west.

MT 2030 meets virtually again next week. The next live meeting is in October in Breckinridge, CO.