2021 | Opinion

Opinion: Advocacy is good, but a plan to combat climate change takes time, effort

Passionate protesters need perspective

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To the editor:

I am writing in response to the Dec. 6, 2021, article “Protesters in Silver Spring urge more action on climate change from county officials.”

I’m pleased that many of my friends were out in the streets calling attention to Montgomery County’s plan for confronting the climate emergency. But I would like to remind them that trying to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2027 and 100% by 2035, which is the county’s goal, takes planning. Which takes time.

When I worked in systems development, I remember people joking: “You start coding, while I go find out what the customer wants.” That’s not the best way to design a big project.   

At the Montgomery County Council’s Climate Town Hall on Dec. 2, residents made numerous suggestions for what the county should be working on. All of the suggestions were appropriate.

But the key question was: How do you prioritize the actions with the most bang for the buck, i.e, the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases? Where do you find the pertinent information?

Fortunately, the county completed the two-year project to develop a plan containing this information in June 2021 — the Climate Action Plan.

The county did not wait for the plan to be completed when it began work in 2019 to reclaim a former landfill site, the Oaks Landfill, with solar panels.

In fact, Montgomery County has had a Climate Action Plan since 2009 and has implemented many of its recommended actions, plus other initiatives.

To answer the question of how climate activities rank by greenhouse gas reduction potential, the June 2021 Climate Action Plan presents the items graphically in Figure 30: “GHG mitigation actions with the highest emissions reduction potential” on p. 99.

It puts the activities in descending order by which need to be prioritized first. At the top is the Community Choice Energy Program, followed by five actions related to building energy use. Who knew that?

Further figures provide detailed suggestions for targeting what can be accomplished by 2027 and later by 2035, the two goalposts established in the plan.

If they have not done so already, my fellow climate activists may want to take a look at the Montgomery County FY22 Climate Work Plan to see a list of actions that the county is targeting in the near term in support of the Climate Action Plan. 

The Department of Environmental Protection website is replete with great documentation. Read it and get involved. Make useful comments.

Patricia Tice
Rockville

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