Twice a month for more than a year, a group of 11 people met under the compact-fluorescent lights of City Hall to develop a plan to make Lawrence a little greener.
For 13 months, the Mayor’s Climate Protection Task Force worked to create a proposal for the Lawrence city commissioners to reduce Lawrence’s greenhouse gas emissions.
March 31, under those same bulbs, the city commissioners received the proposal.
The commissioners did not officially adopt the proposals of the report but did commit to researching whether a current staff member could become Lawrence’s sustainability chair. The commissioners will revisit the proposal in a summer budget meeting.
The proposal included seven strategies to meet emissions goals.
• Strategy 1 creates a full-time, climate adviser to the mayor the city’s highest priority to reduce emissions.
An early version of the report said the creation of a sustainability chair could be funded by a minimal increase in Lawrence residents’ utility bills. However, the provision received some criticism and was removed from the final draft of the proposal.
• Strategy 2 highlights energy conservation as the most cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The first suggestion under this strategy is to inform Lawrence residents of the current financial benefits to reducing energy use, followed by the development of more incentives for consumers.
“You have to weigh the environment and the economy together because you can’t achieve one without the other,” said Mike Dever, Lawrence city commissioner. “I think everyone has realized that if you do the right thing, it’s going to be economical in the long run.”
• Strategy 3 advises Lawrence to consider the environment when planning city development.
• Strategy 4 focuses on transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using public transportation, car-pooling, biking and walking.
• Strategy 5 suggests educating residents about the economic and environmental effects of climate change and ways to reduce individuals’ carbon footprint.
• Strategy 6 involves waste reduction and encourages the use of environmentalism’s three R’s: reduce, recycle, reuse.
• Strategy 7 calls for leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by focusing the energy consumption of the city’s municipal buildings.