Chatham County addressing the climate breakdown

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To the Editor:

Every week or so we are confronted with new evidence of how rapidly our climate is changing due to human caused global heating. The fire storm in Colorado was a terrifying and devastating example. Humanity is in a perilous place. Fortunately it is not too late to prevent the worst. Hopefully Congress will move forward with climate measures and President Biden is taking executive actions. But regardless of what happens at the federal level, local government has a big role in providing leadership and spurring action.

I am grateful that Chatham County is up to the challenge. We are already acting and more is planned. On Dec. 20th, the Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCAC) addressed the County Commissioners. Co-chairs Charles Cooper and Nita Dukes presented 10 strong recommendations for action to reduce emissions and sequester carbon. CCAC recommends that we find ways to conserve more land and preserve more trees — especially important given the increasing pressures for development in Chatham. They suggest looking at innovative ways to promote sustainable agriculture and landscaping, perhaps by holding a summit and developing demonstration projects to spread actionable ideas.

Since transportation is the county’s biggest source of carbon emissions, they recommend supporting the transition to electric vehicles by encouraging the expansion of charging stations near multifamily housing and replacing county vehicles with EVs. They also highlight the potential that green jobs bring to the county. And perhaps most importantly, CCAC recommends the commissioners take a climate perspective in all decision-making and put in measurements or a scorecard to be sure progress is tracked.

It is reassuring that members of the CCAC recognize the threat the climate emergency poses to Chatham and are making sound recommendations for action. I look forward to hearing how the county commissioners will prioritize these recommendations as they implement the Unified Development Ordinance and make other investments in our wellbeing.

Vickie Atkinson
Chapel Hill


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