The year 2035, not 2050, gained official designation as carbon emission net-zero goal year in a new Climate Emergency resolution passed by Hood River City Council.
 
Three weeks after first considering it, the council adopted the resolution on Tuesday.
 
The resolution states that the city will “initiate efforts to formulate adaptation and resilience strategies in preparation for intensifying climate impacts.”
 
The council heard criticism on the delay and on changes made to the resolution from the draft submitted by members of the Columbia Gorge Climate Action Network and students from the Hood River Valley High School Earth Action Club. Council members Tim Counihan and Megan Saunders drafted the revised resolution.
 
It states that it “(affirms) strategies to reduce Hood River’s contribution to global warming and to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis on the health and welfare of the citizens of Hood River.”

Early in its Tuesday meeting, speakers including Lyric Emmons put pressure on the council to adopt the resolution.
 
“The science behind climate change is clear, and there is more than enough evidence to support (the resolution),” said Emmons, a senior at HRVHS.
Lottie Bromham, an HRVHS junior, spoke in sharper tones to the council. She said of the  revised version of the Climate Resolution she helped propose, “You have failed the children of this city in the same way government officials all around the world have.
 
“Move up the zero carbon emissions date to 2035 because rapid, effective action needs to be taken in order to reverse the effects of climate change. And I can say one thing for sure, if nothing is done, the children of this town will not forgive you,” Bromham said.
 
“You have smoothed over the urgency of this matter and have turned it into a sweet, symbolic gesture that will have little to no impact on the climate emergency we are in,” Bromham said.
 
After testimony Tuesday, the council changed to the year 2035 the goal year for reaching net-zero carbon emissions. Originally, the stated year was 2050, but Rev. John Boonstra of the Climate Action Network and other commenters at the meeting pointed to 2050 as too late.

The passage now states, “Hood River commits to take steps to 1) reduce reliance on fossil fuels in municipal operations and to pursue local policies (e.g., adopt  municipal code) and reforms that promote environmental stewardship and sustainability; 2) reduce municipal net greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible with a target of reaching net zero by 2030  with appropriate financial and regulatory assistance from Hood River County.”
Boonstra said, “It is the council’s job to conduct all of its work integrating what we know to be the hard truths about our emergency climate situation and to present to our community goals that outline the necessary actions required of us.”
 
Emmons said, “Every day, thousands of people are gathering and making their voices heard. They are all saying the same things: ‘Our mother is on fire’ and ‘There is no planet B.’ Now is the time to listen to these voices, and make the changes the people are asking for.”
 
“While the climate crisis is an overwhelming global catastrophe, we hold a small slice of it on our local plate here in Hood River. And on that plate is our slice of opportunity,” Boonstra said. “Our local response to the climate emergency is our self-defining moment.”
 
He said the Hood River Energy Plan, of which the city is a partner, does not go far enough in its goals of 30 percent reductions in county wide use of fossil fuels by 2030. “It should not take us 30 more years (2050) to reach net zero by reducing net greenhouse gas emissions. Reaching net zero by 2050 is too little and too late in this current emergency.”

Peter Cornelison of Hood River said “we need to wake people up” and the resolution lacks specifics and those should be addressed in the council’s upcoming annual goal-setting session.
 
Emmons reminded the council she had commented at a previous city council meeting about the importance of declaring Hood River to be in a Climate Emergency.
 
“I could talk more about why we need this, but I think you all already know why we do; we need to keep Earth habitable and safe for all generations to come, not just our own,” Emmons said. “It is our responsibility to do so. To not act now would be downright selfish. There may be things that are holding you back from taking action (fear of change, fear of reputation or fear of public backlash), but in the grand scheme of things, these don’t matter. In order to survive, we have to give up some things and step out of our comfort zone. We must take action.”
 
Bromham told the council, “You have filled this Resolution with weak words that give favor to irresponsibility instead of accountability.
 
“You have even gone so far as to eliminate the portions of this document that laid out concrete steps for how a city should go about reducing fossil fuel emissions,” Bromham said.
 
“You think this is okay because, alas, you have the Energy Plan to fall back on, but many of the components of the Energy Plan haven’t even been addressed yet. And some, may take years to come to fruition because of a lack of funding and a lack of perceived urgency.
 

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