Rockville policy combats climate change at local level

The City of Rockville enacts a new Climate Action Plan with goals to reduce the citys carbon footprint.

The City of Rockville enacts a new Climate Action Plan with goals to reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Becca Fulton, Social Justice Writer

In recent months, the City of Rockville has proposed and put into effect a Climate Action Plan to address climate change mitigation and resilience in the city.

The plan, which can be found here, seeks to begin the restoration of the climate by taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invest in clean energy. With the plan initiated, the goal for the City of Rockville is to meet a 50% emissions decrease by 2030, achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and make a general move to electric vehicles and public transit.

The main feature of the plan is the a series of action items (energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation, etc) that are ranked as either high, medium, or low regarding greenhouse gas emissions, resiliency, feasibility, health, and equity.

“We’ve got to get more people out of their cars by  making it just as easy (or easier) to take transit.  That’s a battle as we seem to have a  car centric mentality,” Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton said. Some of the key ways in which the plan addresses public transit and safety is in ensuring pedestrian and biker safety and providing more walking path and bus route connectivity.

This view on the importance of public transit when discussing climate change is shared by Rockville Environmental Commissioner, Monica Saavos. “I am a particular fan of encouraging pedestrian safety and targeting new development near the metro stations,” Saavos said.
However, despite its benefits, concerns regarding the plan have also been brought into light. “Many of the action items in the plan will have a positive impact on the environment… however, I also feel that there is some low-hanging fruit that is not being addressed,” Saavos said. Despite concerns over school and neighborhood overcrowding, Saavos believes that an increase in allowable density near transit stations and bus routes are necessary to combat climate change. “In my view the slow pace of up zoning those areas is slowing down our climate response,” she said.

Additionally, concerns have been expressed regarding the cost of implementing the new plan. “We will need to show the correlation between inaction and the continuing degradation of our planet as well as the cost benefit to taking steps necessary now to begin to see positive changes,” Mayor Newton said.

The Rockville Climate Action Plan displays actions being taken on a citywide to global scale to reduce the effects of climate change. If the necessary steps and measures are taken, these plans and legislation discussed could lead to drastic positive impacts on local and global climate.